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The Foot Fist Way
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this low-budget indie comedy is being extensively promoted and pushed by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), they aren't actually involved in it -- they're just fans. But, like many of the movies they have been involved with, there's extensive, coarse sexual content (implied oral sex, lots of sexual language); broad, slapstick-variety violence (here, mostly in the form of different kinds of fights and beatings); and plenty of swearing and drinking. What's more, main character Fred isn't very sympathetic; he's a bully and a blowhard and a bore, and his unearned arrogance and condescension are creepy, not comedic. The film also has a sneering tone that's hard to shake.
- Parents say
- Kids say
A sound message on authoritative abuse and what to look for as demonstrated by the main antagonists as the story has no protagonist
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What's the story?
In small-town North Carolina, martial arts instructor Fred Simmons (Danny McBride of Hot Rod) runs a taekwondo studio. Fred used to be a contender, but he's fallen on hard times. Convinced that he needs to revitalize his failing business (and trying to reverse the failure of his marriage), he convinces old associate/action-film star Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best) to come out for a few demonstrations to increase his business -- only to have arrogant, self-important Chuck ruin both the demos and Fred's marriage. Can Fred redeem his life?
Is it any good?
Shot on a shoestring, The Foot Fist Way is pretty much a one-man showcase for McBride's deadpan comedy style and capacity for portraying oblivious self-importance. The problem is that the movie is deeply unfunny. Viewers are expected to laugh at all these characters, not with them; everyone in the film is a moron, a thug, or a deluded, self-centered fool. Unlike, say, Napoleon Dynamite, a comedy in which foolish characters nonetheless earned some of our sympathy and affection, there's no one to root for in The Foot Fist Way, and that makes watching it more of a chore than anything else.
McBride has done far better work in films like Hot Rod and All the Real Girls, so some of the blame must go to the script, which was co-written by director Jody Hill, Best, and McBride; as Fred makes mistake after mistake and looks more and more like a cruel fool, we stop laughing and start squirming. The Foot Fist Way may deserve a few points for low-budget passion (it was shot in 19 days), but it's just so deeply unpleasant that it's hard to imagine anyone actually enjoying its smug, condescending, cruel kind of so-called comedy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people want to see this movie -- is it because of the movie itself or because Will Ferrell says it's funny? Why is his opinion so influential? Families can also discuss the nature of teaching. Just because someone is in a position of authority, does that mean they deserve that authority or will exercise it wisely? Can you think of examples of good and bad teachers in movies?
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