Will Ferrell as Phil Weston
Robert Duvall as Buck Weston
Mike Ditka as Mike Ditka
Kate Walsh as Barbara Weston
Musetta Vander as Janice Weston
Dylan McLaughlin as Sam Weston
Josh Hutcherson as Bucky Weston
Steven Anthony Lawrence as Mark Avery
Jeremy Bergman as Hunter
Elliott Cho as Byong Sun
Erik Walker as Ambrose
Dallas McKinney as Connor
Francesco Liotti as Gian Piero
Alessandro Ruggiero as Massimo
Sammy Fine as Jack
The Red Cards: Deleted Scenes
The Yellow Cards: Outtakes
From Rome to Hollywood
Kickin’ It with the Kids
Behind the Net: The Making of Kicking & Screaming
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Phil Weston is a quiet, nice, reserved man. But underneath his friendly exterior is a lot of frustration and angst caused by his ultra-competitive, domineering father Buck. The owner of a prominent sporting goods store, Buck constantly puts down Phil and feels the need to top him in everything (including having children with a new, younger wife).
This dysfunctional father-son relationship carries over onto the soccer field as Buck coaches his son and grandson’s team. Unfortunately, Buck frequently benches his grandson Sam and eventually even trades him to the worst soccer team in the league, the Tigers.
Eager to encourage his son, Phil agrees to coach the Tigers. Unfortunately, the kids are a bit unfocused and Phil isn’t aggressive enough to whip them into shape. Matters are made worse when Buck starts making fun of Phil and the Tigers. But things turn around when Phil brings in a little help Buck’s next door neighbor and nemesis Mike Ditka. Ditka helps turn the Tigers around, but when Phil gets a taste of victory he goes off the deep end. Will Phil figure out what’s important before he alienates his own son?
Kicking & Screaming is rated PG for thematic elements, language and some crude humor.
If you liked Elf then you’re probably going to like Kicking & Screaming. The films are very similar in spirit. Both have a lovable, naïve buffoon as the lead. Both are family friendly. Both films have a lot of off the wall humor. While Elf may have been a little better, they both are going to appeal to the same audiences. Kicking & Screaming is essentially The Bad News Bears with Will Ferrell.
Will Ferrell again steals the show as Phil Weston. Like in Elf, he shows an innocent, wacky, off the wall sense of humor that ends up saving pretty much every scene in the film. It’s also quite easy to tell when he’s adlibbing and it ends up making the movie even funnier. He has some great bits here and there in the movie that you’ll remember long after the film is over. There’s a running gag about him getting hooked on coffee that goes to extremes. There’s also a hilarious scene where he attempts to bond with his team at a backyard campout. One scene that really cracked me up was when the team had to help out their star players at a butcher shop, then they showed up for a soccer match covered in blood. It sounds gross, but it was hilarious.
Another surprise of the movie was Mike Ditka playing himself. He did a really good job in the role and occasionally even upstaged Ferrell. His tough attitude was a great contrast to Phil Weston, yet he allowed himself to be made fun of. An ongoing battle with his wife over cigar smoking in the house was pretty funny, too. You also have Robert Duvall as Buck Weston. Duvall was a great choice because you buy him as either a hard-nosed jock or a loving father and grandfather. His merciless hounding of Phil was quite amusing. The kids in the film also all have moments to shine, but Elliott Cho as Byong Sun is one of the most notable. From his trick with a drinking cup to being the “shy” one of the bunch, he gets some of the biggest laughs among the kids.
The editing in the film was well done. The story unfolds at a frantic pace and quick transitions from one joke to the next helps keep things rolling. The music was also a fun collection of pop songs including (you guessed it) The Eye of the Tiger.
I had no real problems with this movie. If I had to mention anything it would be that they used the “shaky camera” too much. In some of the most mundane scenes the camera would be moving and shaking as if it were NYPD Blue. It was overkill.
The overall plot of the film was also predictable, but that was forgivable. Enough bizarre things happen along the way that you forget you know the ending before the film even begins. It’s the trip getting there that is entertaining.
I’ll also mention that I showed this to a 3 ½ year old and a 6 year old. The older one sat still and loved it, but the younger one couldn’t sit still for more than a minute, especially during the slow moments. I think this is a good family film, but I think kindergarten age is the cutoff point (at least based on my experience).
If you’re a fan of Will Ferrell then you’ll definitely want to check out Kicking & Screaming. It’s also safe enough that you can take the whole family and everybody can find something to enjoy in it.
There are a few deleted scenes included on the DVD. Here are the highlights:
The Red Cards: Deleted Scenes – There are about 11 minutes worth of deleted scenes. There are a couple of scenes from Ferrell’s childhood. One funny scene features Ferrell giving the kids protein drinks from his store. Naturally, they are disgusted by it. In another scene, one of the kids has an allergic reaction to the finch Ferrell gives him. The scenes are rounded out with a few more scenes featuring the kids interacting and another scene between Ferrell and Duvall doing batting practice at the park at night.
The Yellow Cards: Outtakes- There are over 8 minutes of bloopers. They include your standard trips, flubbed lines, etc. There are hilarious moments where Ferrell’s ad libs mess up Ditka. Ditka even manages to fluster acting veteran Robert Duvall. Overall, they’re a great selection of outtakes.
Alternate Takes As you might guess, Will Ferrell adlibbed a lot in this movie. This features shows some of those alternate takes as he does and says completely random things. He even does some improvisation with Mike Ditka that is quite funny.
From Rome to Hollywood The Italian soccer players are highlighted here. They were literally picked off the street in Italy to play these roles. You see them practicing in Italy then being flown to Los Angeles.
Kickin’ It with the Kids The rest of the kids are highlighted in this featurette. They are shown clowning around, commenting on their co-stars, and more.
Soccer Camp This featurette shows the kids training to be soccer players. They have their own coach who they seem to love. Robert Duvall is also shown visiting their practice to prepare for the role.
Behind the Net: The Making of Kicking & Screaming This is the longest of the bonus features. They highlight the cast and crew and there are interviews with Mike Ditka, Will Ferrell, and Robert Duvall. The writers also discuss how they came up with the idea for the script. Among the more interesting revelations is that the director is the son of Bob Dylan. Whoda thunk it?
The Bottom Line:
Kicking & Screaming is a fun movie that has something to offer for both kids and adults. Will Ferrell and Mike Dikta deliver a lot of laughs. If you liked Elf, this movie should be right up your alley.