Kicking and Screaming

Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) is very disappointed and then outraged to find out that his son Sam (Dillon McLaughlin) is warming the bench at the soccer game – and then is traded to another team by the coach, Sam’s grandfather and Phil’s dad, Buck (Robert Duvall). When the coach of Sam’s new team fails to show, Phil volunteers.

Phil could never live up to his father’s expectations when it came to sports and they get into an argument at Buck’s house. Just then a neighbor starts blowing leaves into Buck’s backyard. It is Mike Ditka (as himself), former coach of the Chicago Bears. Buck and Ditka do not get along and Phil soon convinces Ditka to help him coach Sam’s team, aiming at the championship. To complicate things, Buck had remarried after his divorce and now has a son the same age as Sam so the competition stakes are raised even higher.

I have not been a Will Ferrell fan since he left his political career at Saturday Night Live. He just seems to take sophomoric roles. In many ways, he is a silly coach here, making fun of the behavior of sports parents out there, showing how silly they are to project their own failures, expectations and ambitions on their kids when the kids are just supposed to be “having fun”, (that is, when those parents are not being violent.) However, there are some very funny parts in this film so heavily laden with the “moral of the story.” The usual body-part humor is there (remember? It’s a comedy about adolescent boys between the ages of 10 and 75), but then Ditka gets Phil hooked on caffeine and that did make me laugh.

Sports moms and dads, please pay attention to this film. It’s more for you than the kids, well, the boys. I can see how humor can be a good medium to address what is a serious problem: over zealous sports parents. To see the Davids play against the Goliaths of this soccer league is fun, especially when Phil  brings in the “pros” who are new to the neighborhood. Kicking and Screaming just might give kid-viewers hope if they have a sports-dad-from-hell, the kind that Phil turns into. This film is going to make a lot of money.

Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka are the real stars of Kicking and Screaming. Someone ought to pair them up again.

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