Kicking & Screaming (3/10)

by Tony Medley

To: Will Farrell, Director Jesse Dylan, Writers Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick

Subject: Comedy

Gentlemen, Comedy is not stupid, and stupid is not funny. When you start your film with Phil Weston (Will Farrell) on a track team participating in a track meet and show him incapable of throwing the hammer, unable to clear even one hurdle, able to jump only 12 inches in the Long Jump, and inept at throwing the javelin, those scenes are not funny, they are just stupid. The viewer asks, ďWhat is this guy doing on a track team, after a tryout and many practices, in an actual track meet?Ē The only answer is that somebody far dumber than the audience must have thought someone might find it funny. These scenes are not funny. These scenes are stupid.

When Phil is playing darts with his father, Buck (Robert Duvall), and one of his darts hits a fishpond and causes the glass to explode, itís not funny. Itís impossible that a dart thrown at a fishpond could cause the glass to explode. This scene is stupid.

When a grown man with a 12 year old son is shown totally ignorant of coffee, what it does to you, and is totally oblivious of how to order it, thatís not funny; itís stupid.

The first practice and the first game are too inane to rise to the level of stupidity.

When you show the team being trained by Phil and Mike Ditka, you donít show them teaching the boys anything about soccer. In fact, they never learn one thing about soccer in the entire film. Does this reflect your collective stupidity about the game?

You show the boys doing things in games that look to me, someone who knows virtually nothing about soccer, illegal. Like one of the boys who carries the ball almost the length of the entire field on his back. Isnít it illegal to carry the ball? Like having the Gladiators, Buckís championship team, use a flying wedge to attack Philís team. The flying wedge was initiated in the early days of football and resulted in many deaths before it was declared illegal. You can still see a remnant of it when you watch kickoffs in football. But in soccer such a maneuver would undoubtedly be illegal.

When Phil buys his team presents after a good showing and the presents turn out to be finches (a bird) for each of them, itís not funny; itís stupid to think that anyone would actually think that giving a finch to a boy would be something that would be an exciting gift, or that parents would want a bird in the house.

When a mother stops her son in the middle of a soccer game to paste sunscreen all over his face, one thinks, ďWhy didnít she do that before the game started? Why didnít she do it in the preceding games? Why would she stop the game to put sunscreen on his face?Ē This scene isnít funny; itís stupid.

When Philís goalie, in the championship game, allows a goal and Phil stops the game and collects glasses from the fans watching the game and then strides on the field and has the goalie try on each pair until he finds one that improves his vision, and after that the goalie becomes a superstar because he can finally see, itís not just stupid; itís ridiculous. If the goalie couldnít see all year, how did they get to the championship game? Why didnít Phil deal with this problem earlier? Would a fan give up prescription glasses to give to someone else? Would an adultís  prescription glasses really help a 12 year old boy? Would they fit him?

Your audio is insanely idiotic. You make kicking a soccer ball sound like World War III. You make boysí soccer look absurdly violent.

After a big win when you have Phil kick a soccer ball inside his house, causing a lot of destruction, thatís not funny; itís stupid.

In the championship game when you have one of Philís players distract the goalie on the other team by eating a worm, itís not funny; itís stupid.

You had a good idea, a satire excoriating selfish parents who ruin childrenís sports by their ambitious desire to win and bask in the reflected glory of a child on a winning team. But the way you executed it robbed the movie of its message.

The only thing that saves this film from totally inanity is Mike Ditka. When heís onscreen thereís a life and humor to the film. When heís offscreen, itís stupid. Gentlemen, I havenít even cracked the surface of my list of criticism, but itís late and I want to go to bed. This is not a funny movie; itís a stupid movie.

Best regards,

Tony Medley

May 9, 2005