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Kicking and Screaming (2005)

by on 2011/04/22

“No, you go to hell, and while you’re there, why don’t you grab me a juicebox?”

* * *

Kicking and Screaming is sort of like the big bowl of gum drops at grandma’s house. Nestled in their big crusty crystal bowl, most of the gum drops are as hard as rock, clogged with cat hair, black, or in fact, mothballs …but if you really hang in there and dig down, you’ll find a yellow or purple one that’s still edible.

(I ate a lot of candy today so this sort of imagery was on my mind. Stupid Easter).

I should say up front, I like Kicking and Screaming, its 95-minute runtime of incoherence and unevenness has some funny moments if you really hang in there and dig down.

So… in the true spirit of this movie, my review’s going to be incoherent and uneven. Guaranteed.

But it will be a review …with a few edible gum drops. Probably purple.

Will Ferrell (Elf) plays Phil Weston, the emotionally damaged son of Buck Weston (Robert Duvall). Sports-obsessed Buck is as mean to his clumsy, athletically-challenged son Phil as Robert Duvall is to Canadian film talent.

The father-son rivalry goes into sudden death when Buck trades Phil’s son Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) away from the winning neighbourhood soccer team to the lowest ranked team in the league.

Phil decides to show up his father by agreeing to coach Sam’s team. Don’t say revenge. Don’t say revenge. Revenge.

The losing team – the  Tigers – is itself a moderately amusing (if occasionally nauseating) group of boys. One eats worms for money. One pretends the soccer ball is his pregnant belly. One has vision problems.

As one child asked, “Why is this fun?”

Why indeed.

Notable in the group of kids is Elliott Cho as Byong Sun, the shy (and kind) son of a beautiful (and better) lesbian couple. The bit where Byong Sun slams a Gatorade cup on his knee for an entire minute was gold.

I told you that one had to really look hard to find the funny.

To add insult to injury, Phil asks his dad’s hated neighbour Mike Ditka playing himself (badly) to help him beat Buck. The legendary Super Bowl-winning football coach and Ferrell’s exchanges (and punch-ups) bring some of the best moments of the movie. I guess I just really like seeing Will Ferrell cry.

“I took a punch from Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and I did not go down.”

For a very brief (and unsuccessful) few months of my life, I was a soccer mom. I wore a lot of black, never brought popsicles and was unable to make small talk with the other parents. On the strength of that uncomfortable experience, I found Kicking and Screaming funny …possibly therapeutic.

Also it has a violent tetherball game between a shirtless, sweaty Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall. That’s worth seeing.

I’m sugar crashing pretty hard here so I should probably go now. Kicking and Screaming = perfectly serviceable.

* * *

95 minutes

Rated PG for Will Ferrell shirtless, the senseless murder of several worms and a fish

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