Parental Avoidance Suggested
Just when you think the genre of the humiliation comedy can’t reach any new depths of repugnance and depravity, along comes Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Starsky & Hutch), the doofus king of self-
Yes, ineffectual loser manchild Ferrell is up to his usual schtick here, and no “joke” is too inevitable or obvious. Okay, you can put in a room: 1) a an enormous tank with Dad’s prize killer fish, 2) a dart board, and 3) clumsy oaf Ferrell. But why not at least pretend, for just a microsecond or two, that something other than this is going to happen: clumsy oaf Ferrell (3) will throw dart (2) directly at the enormous fish tank (1), hence destroying it and earning his millionth wrath-
And even if that is the case, is it really necessary to make children the butt of cruel jokes? Look, Ferrell is, allegedly, an adult. If he wants to play a character who, at 40 or whatever age he’s supposed to be, is still subject to regular physical thrashings by his father, fine — he’s the one who has to live with himself. But leave the kids out of it. It’s not like this is, say, Meatballs or The Bad News Bears or one of those other classic flicks that this abysmal movie will someday be lumped in with — the kids here do not have their own integrity as characters or any kind of personal wherewithal within the frame of the story to weather such abuse. They are nothing but little punching bags… and worse, when the tone of the movie shifts, as the tone of this brand of crap invariably does, from cartoonish absurdity to sledgehammer sentimentality, we’re suddenly supposed to “feel” for the little guys when we’d presumably been meant to feel nothing previously, unless we were all just supposed to be heartless unsympathetic bastards all along.
Oh, I know: We’re not supposed to take any of it seriously, of course — it’s “just a movie.” But Kicking & Screaming apes, in its own bizarrely unaware metacontextual way, the drama of the Little League sidelines it thinks it’s sending up. From the brutally unpleasant way that supposed grownups use children as pawns in battles with other adults to the foolishness of divorcing kids’ self-
How anyone can pretend that either of these movies is intended to be viewed and actually enjoyed by people older than five is a great mystery to me.
Fifteen years absent from the big screen, and this is what Jane Fonda comes back to? Catfights with J. Lo? Over her son, that guy from Alias? Frankly, these awful, spineless people all deserve one another — they can all live together like the Three Stooges, and Wanda Sykes can step in and say “Oh, shit!” every once in a while as the “voice of reason.” But wait — what’s this? Everyone gets all lovey-