Kicking & Screaming (2005)

"Excellent"

Kicking & Screaming (2005) Review


Shame is the name of the game in Kicking & Screaming. Will Ferrell's latest outing finds the funnyman trading his Anchorman hairpiece and crippling ego for a clipboard and whistle so he can coach his son's last-place soccer club. The concept comedy comes off as an excuse to have Ferrell yelling at innocent children for two hours, but the script by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick explores alternating levels of humiliation and redemption that bring Screaming to emotional corners you might not expect to visit.

An unhealthy level of competition exists between Phil (Ferrell) and his father, Buck (Robert Duvall). The day that Phil announced his engagement, Buck stole his thunder. They even had baby boys on the same day. Buck's boy weighed one ounce more than Phil's, of course. The rivalry has continued.

Screaming kicks into gear when Buck, who coaches the dominant Gladiator soccer squad, trades Phil's boy Sam (Dylan McLaughlin), a bench warmer, to a losing squad. Sensing his son's disappointment, Phil agrees to take the struggling team's reins. He hopes at first to maintain a sense of fun, but is overwhelmed by the need to compete with his father and win at all costs.

Ferrell stoops to surprising lows for laughs as he cuts loose within a familiar "zeroes to heroes" story. Phil's team, the Tigers, serves as the Bad News Bears of soccer. The misfit club boasts a wisecracker (Steven Anthony Lawrence), an extra-large lunk with motivation issues (Erik Walker) and pint-sized Byong Sun (Elliot Cho), the adopted child of lesbian parents. Phil manages to score former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka as an assistant (there are complicated reasons), and recruits two secret weapons he finds in a butcher shop, of all places.

Screaming is Ferrell's most accessible comedy. The PG rating opens the door for kids and families who first caught Ferrell in his hip-hugging Elf tights. In addition, Phil is easily Ferrell's most relatable character, an "everyman" role that should attract fathers, sons, underdogs, champions, good winners and, best of all, sore losers.

Thankfully, Phil's not the overbearing ogre that's heavily promoted in the misleading trailers. He's a sensitive soccer dad who happens to harbor some serious doses of suppressed rage. He's a suburban Bruce Banner hiding an incredible hulk of a proud parent. Ferrell's approach makes Phil an easy character to root for, which isn't always the case when the comedian rolls out a new personality. It's only when Phil embraces his inner Dr. Phil that he's able to notice his son, recognize the impact of his father's influence, and reconnect with the reasons why he took the coaching job in the first place.

Ferrell's goofy comedy is an acquired taste, and director Jesse Dylan (American Wedding) figures out how to display his star without cramping the film's style. He doesn't overcomplicate his comedy, content to let sequences play themselves out to a natural punch line. Dylan knows when jokes need time - Screaming boasts a brilliant running joke about Phil's obsession with coffee - and when it's simply appropriate to point the camera at a topless Ferrell playing tetherball and wait for the laughter.

Ferrell's unique delivery also keeps sagging jokes afloat. He subliminally drops improvised lines that you'll pick up on repeat viewings. I already know I'll laugh even harder when I revisit Ditka's knockout punch, Phil's celebration dance with Byong Sun, the coffee shop meltdown, and the soccer team's strut off the back of a meat truck - perhaps the best use of the trademark slow-motion Armageddon group walk in recent memory. These sequences, and several more, all but guarantee that Screaming will be much funnier on DVD. Ferrell's movies always are.

Balls!



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Jesse Dylan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.