What do kids do when they canâ€™t get their way? They kick and scream. What an appropriate title for Will Ferrellâ€™s latestâ€”considering each and every audience member, be it kid or adult, will most likely throw a tantrum over Kicking and Screamingâ€™s ordinariness and shortcomings. Unfortunately, not even Ferrellâ€™s physical antics can save this cookie-cutter kiddy comedy from being unexceptional and just plain unfunny.
Ever since Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) could hold a ball in his hand, he has undercut his competitive fatherâ€™s expectations. Phil has never beaten his father Buck (Robert Duvall) in anything, and every time Phil seems to do something grand, his arrogant father one-ups him. When Phil announces his engagement, so does his fatherâ€”to a younger and prettier woman; when Phil has a child, so does his dadâ€”and it is no surprise when Buckâ€™s son, Bucky (Josh Hutcherson), is one ounce heavier than Philâ€™s son, Sam (Dylan McLaughlin). With Buck, everything is a competition.
However, when Phil gets the opportunity to coach Samâ€™s soccer team and go up against his fatherâ€™s team, he jumps at the chance. Once Philâ€™s team starts to win, Phil becomes overly obsessed with winning and â€“ just like his champion father â€“ does anything and everything to avoid losing.
Phil becomes a monster, and his transformation from a klutzy dork into a Bobby Knight wannabe really isnâ€™t as funny as one would think. In fact, it is a little tiresome. Watching Ferrell push kids to the ground, encourage his players to â€śbreak someoneâ€™s clavicleâ€ť and force parents to run laps only provides enough chuckles to count on one hand and further downgrades the already deprived script. Ferrell has finally come down off of his four-picture high.
While Kicking and Screaming serves as a train-wreck for Will Ferrell, it serves as a vehicle for Mike Ditka. Ditka, who plays himself, is Philâ€™s assistant coach and Buckâ€™s raucous neighbor. Even though the man who led the Chicago Bears to the â€™85 Super Bowl may be a dynamic motivator, the same cannot be said for his acting ability. To put it simply: Ditka cannot act. In fact, with him included, the film seems more like an SNL sketch with Mike Ditka as the host.