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Kicking and Screaming
2005 - PG - 96 Mins.
Director: Jesse Dylan
Producer: Judd Apatow
Written By: Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick
Starring: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh, Steven Anthony Lawrence
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.kickingandscreamingmovie.com/index.php
   

Look at the little maggots run!
Universal decides to get into the game with the same old story of an unlikely coach and his even more unlikely team that triumph over adversity to become winners, this time focusing on the sport of soccer, and starring Will Ferrell, who appeared in the remake of 'Bewitched' a month or so after 'Kicking and Screaming' was released.

It seems parents take their children's athletic lives a little too seriously these days. Nary a week goes by that you don't hear about a parent getting into a scuffle with officials over a call in a little league baseball game. 'Kicking and Screaming' takes that concept and runs with it to mostly positive results.

The concept for 'Kicking and Screaming' is old hat by now so the filmmakers (chief among them director Jesse Dylan, son of musician Bob Dylan) had to add a new twist to the story. They have done just that by casting Will Ferrell in the role of the overzealous (to say the least) coach and son of one of the players.

Ferrell is hit or miss. His whiny man-child personality can easily become grating, as anyone who saw 'Bewitched' can attest. In 'Kicking and Screaming' said personality is put to infinitely better use. His Phil Weston is an inspired comic creation, maintaining his charm even when he is shouting at the top of his lungs for his mostly incompetent team of youngsters to try harder. Heck, even when Phil aims his anger at officials whom he believes are rigging the game for the opponent, one cannot help by like the guy in all his "infantileness" because he has his reasons, however skewed they may be, and yet they are easily understandable to the viewer. Even more, what starts as a fun character becomes laugh-out-loud hilarious once next door neighbor Mike Dikta (playing himself) enters the picture as his assistant coach, promptly getting Phil addicted to coffee. The repartee between the two is genius comedy gold because Dikta is obviously enjoying playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself and the viewer feels they are being let in on an inside joke. Once the aforementioned coffee addiction enters the picture the film is off and running. The first time you witness Ferrell's own personal cappuccino machine sitting on the bench next to the players I guarantee you'll be choked with laughter.

The film also boasts a strong performance by Robert Duvall as Ferrell's overbearing father. Playing a man who believes winning truly is everything, meaning even more than a good relationship with his son, Duvall is perfectly cast. The actor has the necessary gravitas and screen presence to come across as demanding despite his relatively small physical presence.

It may seem like yet another retread of overly familiar material but 'Kicking and Screaming' is well worth your time if only to bear witness to the lively performances by Will Ferrell and Mike Dikta.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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