Full disclosure: Grace Hill Media offered bloggers a free screening pass in exchange for writing an entry about Kicking and Screaming; I participated in that offer.
I saw Kicking and Screaming on Tuesday night and I rather enjoyed it. In case you haven't seen the trailer — which appears to be just about everywhere these days, including as a promotional spot on my TiVo — the movie stars Will Ferrell as a reluctant soccer coach of his last-place kids’ soccer team.
It’s hard to pass up a gratis pass to a movie screening and, at the time it was offered to me, I didn’t know much about the film. Well, I knew that Will Ferrell starred in it and that it was about a kids’ soccer team. And, really, that’s all you need to know. It's a sports movie — so all the standard sports-movie clichés apply — and it’s also a father/son movie — so all those clichés apply too. Just to name a few:
- Don’t read these if you’re really scared of spoilers
- The coach of a father’s son’s soccer team drops out, so the father has to take over
- The father is pretty bad at coaching, at first, but gets much better at it with practice
- The team is a bunch of misfits in last place and, miraculously, they make it to the championship game
- And, of course, there’s the obligatory cute-kid-with-glasses for comic relief (gee, where have I seen that before?)
Having said that, though, the movie was enjoyable from start to finish. Sure, not all the jokes were home runs (or “gooooals”, I suppose) but I had some good laughs in there. In particular — and I don’t want to ruin the punchline — the scene where Will Ferrell’s character tells his son that his son’s grandfather traded to another team has a nice twist after Ferrell’s character Phil ends up getting more worked up about the situation than his son. Oh, and apparently (if my eagle eyes don’t fail me), his son Sam uses Safari for his web browsing ;).
(Minor spoilers in this paragraph.) I’d recommend the movie to just about anyone if this genre is your bag. My only gripe, I’d say, is that the flick tended to fall back on its formula towards the end. So, Phil ends up being an effective coach but he’s just too mean and he wants to win at all cost, even to the point of benching his son who isn’t one of the better players… blah. blah. blah. His son feels discouraged and doesn’t even suit-up for the final game. Of course, Phil realizes the error of his ways, emotes an apology to his son and — how convenient — Sam’s mom happened to bring along Sam’s uniform “just in case” he decided to suit-up.
All the while, though, the filmmakers are beating us over the head with the supposed compassion of the scene through the old trick of the swelling strings. And, it wasn’t just a little bit here and there — they really poured it on and I felt like I was bobbing in a swimming pool of violins, gasping for air. Really, I could have imagined any one of these quotes spurting from the from the mouth of the director as they edited that scene:
“I’ll be honest… fellas, it was sounding great. But… I could’ve used a little more swelling strings.”
“I got a fever! And the only prescription… is more swelling strings!”
One last thing. Maybe it was me, but it seemed like there were an inordinate number of songs within the soundtrack which were also featured in iPod commercials. The song from the new rollerskating commercial (“Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz)? Yeah, that’s in there. And that older one from the commercial with the hipster and the dancing posters (“Ride” by The Vines)? That too.