Blogging’s been a bit light for me lately. I’ve been fighting off a cold and a complete lack of content. However, last night’s trip to the Irvine Spectrum to see Kicking and Screaming provided a good opportunity to get back into the swing of things. Once again, my favorite marketing company came through with the free tickets.
Will Ferrell, who surprised and delighted in Elf, plays the slightly immature “Phil” who is struggling to get out from underneath the competativeness of his father Buck (Robert Duvall). After Phil’s son is traded to the last-place soccer team (by Duvall, no less!), Ferrell takes on the job of coaching it. He brings former Bears coach Mike Ditka (da coach!) on as and an assistant coach, discovers two Italian immigrant children who happen to be soccer phenoms, and bets his father (who happens to coach the first place soccer team) that they will meet in the finals. On the road to the Finals, Ferrell becomes obsessed with beating his father, alienating his own son along the way.
This makes for a highly predictable, yet improbable, ending. Ferrell undergoes a stunning last-second transformation, so much so that his newfound insight and abilities far surpass his “pre-obsession behavior.” Previous to the championship game, his team’s game plan amounted to, “Always pass to the Italians.” Disenchanted with this non-inclusive strategy, Ferrell commands his team to do the opposite of everything he previously told them as a coach. Not surprisingly, everything works. His team suddenly works together in Mighty Duck-esque fashion, unknown talents emerge, and they defeat the other team.
Nothing in the script anticipates this, and it makes for a ridiculous and unbelievable turnaround. There is no sense of working hard or practicing, as in the Mighty Duck movies, where talentless kids labor to become a good team. In “Kicking and Screaming”, no work or practice is necessary–all that’s needed is having fun and working together. Oh, and also winning. It’s only because he’s beaten that the overly competative Duvall begins respecting his son (ht: Keith).
Furthermore, it was tough for me to get past Ferrell’s overly childish antics. In a movie like Elf, where he plays an over-sized child in an adult world, Ferrell is funny. In a movie where he is ostensibly an adult among children, Ferrell is almost pathetic. Ferrell is the least mature person on the field at points, and it’s hard for me to find childishness of this sort amusing.
However, there are funny moments, and the soccer footage is downright enjoyable. It makes for a movie that’s not great, but not awful. I would suggest waiting for the dollar theatre, and if you’re not so blessed to have one nearby, then NetFlix it, but only if you’re up to handling two hours of over-the-top Ferrell antics. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time.