Kicking & Screaming Movie Review

Here's the recipe for making a movie as badas "Kicking and Screaming":

First, take every underdog-sports-movie cliche you canthink of and liberally apply them to a little league soccer team. Next,virtually ignore the team members as characters, except to sprinkle thesoundtrack with ethnic music every time an Asian or Italian kid is on thescreen.

Then focus all your energy on their whiney, klutzy, insecure,dumb-as-a-post sitcom-dad coach, and be sure to cast a shameless ham toplay him -- like, say, WillFerrell. And just for good measure, hire a famoustough-guy coach from an entirely different sport in a major supportingrole, but first make sure he's an embarrassingly bad actor -- former ChicagoBears honcho Mike Ditka will do nicely.

Fold these ingredients into a script driven by gimmicks(when Wimpy Dad drinks too much coffee, he turns into a raging jerk --ahh, ha, ha, ha, ha!) and bake for 87 minutes which feel more like two-and-a-halfhours. Serve with stale popcorn.

Cooked up by the writers of "Space Jam" and lackadaisicallydirected by Jesse Dylan ("AmericanWedding"), this supposed kids' movie isn'tabout the kids at all. Even the 11-year-old son, whose team of misfitsFerrell decides to coach, has only four or five lines of dialogue. Theplot is driven instead by the childish rivalry between sissy Ferrell andhis aging super-jock dad (Robert Duvall, slumming for an easy paycheck)who is the taunting, win-at-all-costs coach for another team in the league.

Ditka plays Duvall's next door neighbor who becomes Ferrell'sassistant coach out of spite, stemming from a dispute over the disposalof yard waste, and despite his cue-card performance, he has more dialoguethan all the soccer-playing kids combined.

An incompetent coach to begin with, Ferrell gets all wrappedup in beating his dad at the expense of having fun, but inevitably comesto learn the trite lesson that Winning Isn't Everything. Of course, thishypocritically leads to the same Big Game finale as every other hackneyedunderdog-sports movie in the history of cinema, in which the hapless teamis suddenly blessed with unexplained skills -- skills portrayed so unconvincinglyit's downright painful to watch.

But the most agonizing ingredient in "Kicking andScreaming" is the sting of watching Will Ferrell, after two surprisinglywitty performances in "Elf"and "Melinda& Melinda," revert to the same oldone-note, dim-bulb clowning that aggressively stupid plots seem to bringout in him. Can't somebody get this man a gourmet script and keep him awayfrom such cinematic junk food?

Cast & Crew

Director :

Starring : , , , , , , , , , , , , Reef Danner, Dan Metcalfe, Sammy Fine, , , , Kaitlyn Francis, Matt Winston, Brie Hill Arbaugh, Jeffrey Noah, Brian Palermo


Kicking & Screaming Rating

" Zero "

Rating: PG, WIDE: Friday, May 13, 2005


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