Kicking & Screaming
Kicking & Screaming is a 2005 comedy film directed by Jesse Dylan starring Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall. It focuses on the exploits of a boys' soccer team and their new coach. Phil Weston (Will Ferrell), is an average person who has had to endure his father Buck Weston's (Robert Duvall) over-competitiveness throughout his childhood, an upbringing which has left permanent mental scars. Now middle-aged, married, with a young son named Sam, Phil runs a small vitamin store, whilst Buck operates a local chain of sports stores. Buck is coach of the Gladiators the most successful little-league soccer team in the district. Sam is on the squad, but to his dad's annoyance his grandfather keeps him as a benchwarmer rather than playing him, a humiliation he also visited upon his son decades prior. Buck eventually transfers Sam to the Tigers, the league's worst team. At Sam's first game with his new team their coach is absent. Rather than forfeit, Phil decides to coach the team, a position he takes up permanently. However, despite Phil's best efforts the team continues to lose repeatedly. In desperation Phil recruits Mike Ditka (played by himself), who is Buck's neighbor. Enticed by the
Release Date: May 13, 2005
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With a formula film, you have to have just the right ingredients to make it work. In the case of "Kicking & Screaming," that's Will Ferrell.
Having apparently seen what he did with the comedy hits "Elf" and "Old School," the makers of this formulaic sports comedy were apparently content to let Ferrell run wild. And he's clearly just riffing here, making up things as he goes along. (Let's hope the eventual DVD will feature outtakes, so we can see just how far out there he went.)
"Kicking & Screaming" is a cousin to such underdog comedies as "Bad News Bears" and "The Sandlot," and the fact that it garners any real laughs is due to Ferrell. Even with him, this flimsy comic construct will quickly fade from memory.
Ferrell stars as Phil Weston, a mild-mannered vitamin salesman who's at odds with his ultra-competitive father, Buck (Robert Duvall). Their family feud reaches new lows when youth-league soccer coach Buck "trades" Phil's son Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) to a losing team.
Though Buck has actually done this to give his bench-warmer grandson an opportunity for more playing time, Phil considers it an insult. So he jumps at the opportunity to coach Sam's team, hoping to exact some revenge.
Unfortunately, Phil inherits the league's worst team. So he recruits his father's nemesis, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, to help rally the troops.
With the support of this coaching legend, who recruits two Italian soccer prodigies (Francesco Liotti and Alessandro Ruggiero), Phil's team starts racking up wins. But as he begins subscribing to Ditka's win-at-all-costs philosophy, Phil discovers he's turning into his father.
Thanks to director Jesse Dylan's flat direction, few scenes have comic punch. And his odd pacing makes the film feel longer than its relatively short running time.
Still, he had the good sense to defer to Ferrell, who does garner his share of laughs. His natural goofiness makes the character of Phil more likable especially over the course of the film's final third, as he turns into a self-involved jerk.
But you kind of wish the movie made better use of Duvall, who disappears for long portions, apparently to give more time to Ditka, whose self-parodying bluster amuses at first but quickly gets old.
"Kicking & Screaming" is rated PG for some athletic and slapstick-style violence, some suggestive humor and references, and scattered use of mild profanity (mostly religiously based). Running time: 97 minutes.
May 13th, 2005 · Details