Although Will Ferrell often plays a psychotic jerk, he is really a jock who majored in sports broadcasting at USC. Maybe that’s why so many of his movies have a sports theme. Kicking & Screaming is his soccer movie.
But instead of being a player, he is Phil Weston, the inept Soccer Dad coach saddled with the worst team in the league. With the help of Mike Ditka, he becomes obsessed with beating the league champions, who are coached by his ultra-competitive father, Buck Weston (Robert Duvall). Grandpa Buck has a trophy second wife and a young son the same age as his grandon (i.e. Phil’s son).
How can Phil beat his father’s (and half-brother’s) team? By bringing in a couple of Italians…
$20M box office
This movie has a fairly good script, was produced by Judd Apatow, directed by the son of Bob Dylan, and Ferrell was paid $20M to star in it. So, it has great production values for a soccer movie. And the soccer is choreographed by Dan Metcalfe, who has advised on many soccer movies and does a good job on this one (in an inside joke, Ferrell hands out “Coach Dan” training videos to the team).
Funny but then not so funny
But is the movie funny and worth watching? It’s kind of a toss-up. When Ferrell is the mostly normal dad in the first half, all the characters are involved and it’s entertaining with a lot of laughs. But then Ferrell becomes the anti-Dad-coach, the coffee-fueled crazy who runs onto the field to push a player down. He screams at kids/parents/refs, throws chairs, taunts the other team, and tells his players to break their opponents’ clavicles.
At that point, as a parent, it’s not so funny because frankly, it’s too close to the real problem of negative youth coaching. When Ferrell does his shtick in his other movies, he’s doing it around adults, and you see him as the over-grown kid. But when he acts out around little kids, then you see him as a very bad influence, and you want it all to stop. Of course, if you’re a classic Will Ferrell fan, none of this will matter.
Good extras on the DVD
The DVD has interesting extras, such as how the idea for the movie came about, how the Italian players were recruited and taught to do the special soccer tricks they execute during the games, and how Metcalfe trained the very non-athletic actors in a 2-week soccer camp.
This is Robert Duvall’s second soccer movie, after A Shot at Glory
Update on Jan-4-2022: I don’t know why I never mentioned this before… My husband and I went to see Kicking & Screaming on our first date. So remember, a soccer movie first date can lead to a marriage proposal.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6