"Ditka rules! Still, the Superbowl Shuffle was more fun than this!"
Kicking and Screaming is a failed vehicle for Will Ferrell’s talents and another example of how low our standards are when it comes to comedy. Less a coherent story than a series of vignettes, the film feels like a brainstorming session rather than a polished comedy.The movie follows Phil (Will Ferrell), a suburban nebbish who has endured hardships at the hands of his obnoxiously competitive father, Buck (Robert Duvall.) Buck coaches a successful little league soccer team and decides to transfer his own grandson (Phil’s son) to the worst team in the league, the Tigers.
Frustrated at his father’s insensitivity, Phil takes on the Tiger’s coaching duties, a decision that transforms him from a kind father and a mild person into a ruthless, caffeine-crazed tyrant. The result is a showdown between father and son on and off the soccer field.
Am I the only one who is tired of these one-dimensional comedies?
I’m sick of movies that try to make you laugh by bombarding you with a mixture of second-rate original jokes and overused humor.
Kicking and Screaming’s’s gags are either bizarre and off-putting (Phil becomes violent when he is not served coffee quickly) or old and clichéd (Phil gets hit in the balls. Phil falls down.)
When did our standards become so low that we expect to find the same level of humor in movies as in sitcoms? Come on! We are paying for this stuff! Films should do more than elicit the same knee-jerk chuckles as America’s Funniest Home Videos.
These lame comedies also rely on an ensemble procession, where supposedly quirky, eclectic and endearing characters are marched in and out of scenes to pad the script. Kicking and Screaming is no exception. A pair of lesbian soccer moms, an irate Hummer owner, a cute adopted Asian boy, two young Italian soccer experts and a doped up coffee machine are all paraded lovingly in front of the camera as if their presence alone raises the bar. It doesn’t.
I’m also sick of comedies that exhibit older, grade-A actors in straight roles just because they could get them. Robert Duvall is a superior actor with one of most finely honed talent in America. So why is he reduced to grimacing and muttering shallow, villainous lines? It’s insulting and unfair both to Duvall and the audience. Watching his performance is like watching the Hope Diamond used to cut windowpanes.
Will Ferrell is funny, and a lot of the movie’s laughs come from his physical and verbal comedy, but the character he is playing isn’t even a little endearing. Phil is far from likable, and Ferrell’s performance will quickly fade from your memory (unless you are someone who finds indefensible pleasure in watching pathetic or psychotic people.)
One man does rise above the mediocrity of Kicking and Screaming though. His performance is clever, funny and manages to upstage everyone with whom he shares screen time. Mike Ditka is simply amazing as himself. The energetic, fun-filled and nuanced performance he brings to the film is simply out of the ordinary.Iron Mike is phenomenal! Kicking and Screaming is not.