When I saw the previews for Will Ferrell’s new movie, Kicking and Screaming, all I could do was sigh. My five year old daughter, who is playing her first season of soccer this year, begged me to take her to see it. Even though Will Ferrell’s comedy is generally a little far out for my taste, I reluctantly agreed.
I must admit, Will Ferrell surprised me. His performance was significantly better than I had expected. He did do some of his trademark slapstick comedy, but he did an admirable job of showing some real emotion as well. Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka also came through with inspiring performances. The children were cute, funny, and talented, and the soccer action was exciting.
Kicking and Screaming had all the ingredients that make a great movie. Unfortunately, it was offset by an unoriginal and predictable script. It was just like so many other sports movies: the underdogs come back and become the champions. The coach becomes consumed with winning, realizes the error of his ways, and discovers that winning isn’t as important as working hard and having fun. Pretty standard stuff.
Despite that, the movie ultimately redeemed itself. It had a valuable lesson and a lot of heart. My daughter had a great time, laughed hard, and learned a lesson about sportsmanship in the process. Watching her enjoy the movie was as much fun as the movie itself.
It comes down to this: Kicking and Screaming is not a great classic film. It is not thought provoking and it’s not worthy of an Oscar nomination. What it is is an entertaining family film. It will make your kids laugh and remind them that winning isn’t everything. Little soccer players will love and learn from it, so I think that it’s ultimately worth the price of admission.