DVD Review: Kicking & Screaming
By Andy McKeague
Nov 23, 2005, 7:30 GMT
With a family orientated movie featuring cute kids, soccer dads, comic star Will Ferrell, and veteran actor Robert Duvall, how can one go wrong ? Watch and see…
Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) is not even a twinkle in his father’s eye. For years and years he has aspired to attain his father’s acknowledgement and has been unsuccessful in obtaining the high prerequisites. His ultra-competitive father Buck (Duvall) has always wanted perfection, there is never any room for a second place as second place just means being another looser. Will is a loving father and loyal husband, but when he sees his son warming the soccer bench, just as he had all those years ago, it is time to speak, confronting Dad, and pitch a few life lessons into the mix.
So when son Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) is transferred to the Tigers, the team propping up the bottom of the league, and through a turn of fate Phil becomes their coach. This means taking on the old man at his own game. The Tigers is filled with every cute kid and misfit cliché in the book, from the tiny bespeckled Byong Sun (Elliott Cho) with his lesbian parents, to the wise assed long haired Mark (Steven Anthony Lawrence), but things get desperate as a long overdue win is required.
Phil enlists the help of his Dad’s next-door neighbour and the bane in his Dad’s life, Mike Ditka, here playing himself, (a note to non-US readers - Ditka was the Head coach of the National Football League's Chicago Bears (1982-1992) and has been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame), to whip the kids into shape. The next move is to enlist a pair of young Italian ringers, Gian Piero (Francesco Liotti) and Massimo (Alessandro Ruggiero), and not surprisingly, the Tigers start winning their matches.
This must have looked great on paper, it has all the right ingredients for a fun packed family friendly movie, but in the end comes up rather flat and unfunny. Byong Sun’s lesbian parents seem to be the start of an intended joke that never arrives, the whole coffee addiction that Phil goes through and the associated mood swings is too quick and manic that it lacks any credibility, subtlety or humour. There are a few moments of slapstick that do hit their mark, but what kills this movie is the lack of any depth to any of the kids, the focus on the movie is well and truly on Phil, not on Phil and his son, or Buck and Phil, or Phil and the Tigers, just Phil. Everything else on display just seems to be a prop for Phil to go from one hyper active display to the next and this is not aimed at the same market as his enjoyable ‘Anchorman’, nor is it as kiddie friendly as ‘Elf’, so whatever its intended audience is frankly beyond me.
There is a batch of mixed extras. Starting off with some deleted scenes (some of which are just alternative takes) which show a little more characteristics to the kids and a scene so out of whack with a soccer game shot like a battle scene, it is no wonder it was dropped. More alternative takes and some funny bloopers are on hand, as is the obligatory making of. On a good note is a nice featurette with the kids learning and playing soccer, it is just a shame that the movie lost most of this in the transition to the screen.
Not all is bad here, there are a few funny moments and the US viewers will get more out of the role of Ditka than anyone else I am sure, so if in a forgiving mood this could go down reasonably well enough. In short this does have a few good ideas, although what is on show is much less than its parts.
A limited edition is available which includes a kids sports watch ! I only hope it does not have Ferrell’s face on it.
'Kicking & Screaming'
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