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.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. I thought finally a movie that I could enjoy with my daughter. I have played soccer since age 5 (now 34) and my daughter (10) has played since age 4. “PG.” I thought good. Read up on it and nothing seemed objectionable. One source even said that Ferrell parted ways with his usual antics. Well, as you know, that was not really the case. I concur with your comments.

    However, I did not notice mention of two gratuitous attempts to assimilate my child’s views toward the contemporary secular, crass, and “heterophobist” attitude.

    First, Duvall’s continual reference to what he has more of, being the owner of a sporting goods store. This would not have been as bad had it not been accompanied with hand gestures to imply something of the male anatomy. Then to utter these comments at the dinner outside of a clear reference to the store.

    Second, the way the lesbian couple was dealt with. Humor and then Ferrell attempting to show acceptance of their “lifestyle.” Rubbish. It did not need to be in a children’s movie. I am not a fan of O’Reilly, but he recently had a column arguing for letting kids be kids and that means innocent as long as possible. They don’t need schools and movies rushing them to deal with adult issues. They don’t. I don’t want my daughter growing up at this age wondering and possibly confused about what is right, what is wrong, what is tasteful, what is untasteful. And if a movie is going to have that, then I want to be warned. PG this movie is not, that is unless “PG” no longer means what it used to. Perhaps that is the case.

    Interested to find out your take on these aspects of the movie and whether or not you have children that saw the film.

    A fellow Southern Californian blogger,


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