Kicking and Screaming

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I recall Will Ferrell from Saturday Night Live and now all of the sudden, the guy is everywhere. Yes, everywhere! Just yesterday I reviewed “Bewitched” and the day before that Fusion reviewed “Melinda and Melinda”, both starring Will Ferrell. Ok, so the guy is an ex-SNL cast member and expected to make a few movies and then quietly fade into nothingness and wait to be cast on “The Surreal Life”, right? Ok, maybe not. For all of the SNL cast members who made it big (Chris Rock, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler immediately to mind) there are others who have had hints of success, but they can’t compare to others (David Spade and Rob Schneider come to mind). Then there’s Will Ferrell…he’s funny, real funny, but does he have the ability to branch out like the others and truly make a name for himself? Or will he keep doing the same character in every movie he’s in? To answer my own question, it appears that Ferrell does have the ability to diversify, but in “Kicking and Screaming” he resorts back to his SNL roots.

Ferrell plays Phil Weston, whose father expected big things from. Unfortunately those things never came to fruition and now his father (Robert Duvall) has divorced his wife and married someone 1/3 of his age. Father and son both have sons that grow up together, but being the competitive person he is, Buck (Duvall) benches his own grandson in favor of the team winning. Buck then trades his grandson to the worst soccer team in the league and Phil is forced into coaching. He’s awful, naturally, and enlists the help of Buck’s next door neighbor who just happens to be…Mike Ditka (playing himself). Ditka energizes the team and with the help of a few Italian kids, the team starts to win some games. However as the team starts to win, we see that the apple (Phil) doesn’t fall far from the tree – he becomes obsessed with winning (and coffee).

The movie is essentially a rip off of any movie like this, be it “The Bad News Bears” or “The Mighty Ducks”. The cartoonish ensemble of kids (the soccer team) make for some cheap laughs but I must say that I was pretty impressed with Mike Ditka. Yes, really. I was living in Chicago the year that the Bears went all the way (and, ironically enough, beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl) and Ditka had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. There’s plenty of physical humor, yelling and nothing too offensive. Suffice it to say that it’s still a family movie, but just barely. As for Ferrell, he gets some time to ham it up and he does a pretty good job at it. Duvall is showing his age, but he turned in a pretty good comic performance as well. In summary, I really either didn’t know what to expect or had low expectations for “Kicking and Screaming” and that might be the best way to see the movie.

Video: How does it look?

The 2.35:1 anamorphic image is just about what we’ve come to expect from Universal. There isn’t a lot to complain about here as the images are clean and very vivid. I found a couple of the outdoor scenes to be a bit on the bright side, but nothing to get in a fuss about. Details are sharp and there was no sign of artifacting, dust on the print or anything else that might detract from the superior video quality. “Kicking and Screaming” looks very good in the video department.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is actually surprisingly robust at times, most notably in the soccer games. Dialogue is very clean and constant and the surrounds are used quite often, bringing a new level of depth to what I thought would be a pretty bland track. There are the usual sound effects (to denote physical humor), although most of the action takes place in the front stage. This is a good-sounding track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There aren’t a lot of supplements on “Kicking and Screaming”, usually they’re present on movies that did horribly at the box office or on movies that did extremely well. This movie came in around the middle and we’re left with an unusual bevy of extras. Red and Yellow cards are some deleted scenes and outtakes – nothing too much here, mainly just some scenes that slowed the pace of the movie. There are some featurettes as well: “From Rome to Hollywood”, “Kickin’ it with the Kids”, “Soccer Net” and the obligatory “Making of Kicking and Screaming”. All in all I actually enjoyed the movie, the audio and video were above average and though the supplements lack any substance, they’re there regardless.

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