10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Very funny until the comedy is allowed to get out of hand,
This review is from: Kicking And Screaming [DVD] (DVD)
Will Ferrell is always funny, and the part of Phil Weston would seem to be tailor-made for his comedic antics. Phil's basically a little boy in a man's body, a little boy who wants to finally prove himself to his father and make up for never having met the old man's expectations. Robert Duvall lends the film an importance presence and additional laughs as the highly competitive Buck Weston, sporting goods king and highly successful coach of the Youth Soccer League Gladiators team. Phil (Ferrell) has never been able to get a leg up on his father - but certainly not from lack of effort. When he got married, his father got re-married; when he had a son, his father's wife gave birth to a son (slightly larger, of course) the same day. Young Sam and his equally young uncle Bucky play for the Gladiators, Buck's team, and they are all but unbeatable. Sam, though, is the proverbial benchwarmer, so Buck decides to trade his own grandson to the league's worst team. Yes, it's another team of misfits of all shapes and sizes that just need an incredible coach to take them to unsuspected glory. That coach is nowhere to be seen, and Phil ends up taking on the job.
That's when the competitive juices start flowing. The first big move Phil makes is to take on an assistant coach, his dad's neighbor and long-time enemy Mike Ditka. Iron Mike is surprisingly good in this film and more than holds his own beside both Ferrell and Duvall. He only takes the job to try and make Buck's life more difficult, but he soon goes about whipping the little misfits into shape. The team still stinks, but their fortunes begin to change when Ditka and Phil bring in two new players, a pair of Italian kids who were apparently born with soccer balls balanced on their feet. The team begins winning, and with every win Phil goes a little more cuckoo for cocoa puffs; his new coffee addiction doesn't really help, either. Sure, it's funny to watch Ferrell go about inspiring his team in pretty unorthodox ways, but it eventually gets to the point that the whole thing stops being funny. Even Ditka can't get behind telling the kids to cheat (without getting caught, of course) or break a few clavicles. Ferrell's character just goes so over-the-top that you just want to slap him; he lets the desire to beat his dad corrupt him completely, and the lack of moderation in the second half of the film is a real negative.
There are a lot of laughs to be had in Kicking and Screaming. It's exceedingly formulaic and predictable, but that doesn't matter all that much as long as the laughs keep coming. The script just takes Ferrell's character way too far over the line; watching a crazy guy coach soccer is funny, but watching a freak going bonkers on the sidelines is more annoying than anything else. The film could really have used more Ditka in the later stages. Don't go thinking this is some cameo by Iron Mike; he gets a lot of screen time, and he makes this movie better and funnier with all of his trademark habits.
In the end, Kicking and Screaming is a very funny movie, but it's not a great comedy. Despite excellent performances all around (especially Ditka's), the film is just too over-the-top for its own good. You can't say the movie tries to be anything more than it is, though - it's all about generating laughs and nothing else.