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Kicking & Screaming (2005)

Kicking and Screaming

All his life Phil Weston has dreamed of being on a winning team. Phil... your time has come.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Something very peculiar is happening in America at the moment. Kids all over the country are actually kicking balls instead of trying to pick them up and throw them, and – at time of writing – the country has an international football team ranked at an impressive 6th place in the world. After all these years, could it really be that the US is finally catching up with the rest of the planet?

Okay, so they still annoyingly refer to the beautiful game as “soccer”, and they probably call the goal the “score bag” or something daft like that – but there’s little denying that the States are falling more and more in love with the sport all the time. And, if ‘Kicking & Screaming’ is anything to go by, it seems those pesky yanks are also discovering that the one thing a love of football inevitably brings with it is the dodgy football movie.

This half-heartedly promoted little summer flick tells the tale of Phil Weston (Will Ferrell), a suburban Chicago worrywart who lives perennially in the shadow of dad Buck (Robert Duvall). Born-winner Buck coaches a local kiddies’ footy team, and takes the whole thing so seriously that even grandson Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) is left warming the subbies’ bench. Phil gets the chance to finally put one over on the old man when he takes on coaching duties at a rival team – but can he guide them to victory without letting the job go to his head? Thankfully – otherwise it would be a very dull film – the answer to that one is no.

Aimed predominantly at the younger age of the kiddy market, it’s obvious here that very little effort has been put into coming up with an original story or screenplay. A huge debt of thanks, then, is owed by someone to Will Ferrell. It’s Ferrell alone whose wonderful ad-libbing and general comic ability lift the film above the average and provide it with some extremely funny laugh-out-loud moments. Given the guy’s sheer volume of work at the moment (by the end of 2006 he’ll have appeared in TEN movies in two years) I expect to become pretty darn fed-up of the sight of Mr Ferrell before too long. I’m happy to say, however, that I’m not there yet.

It's Got: A caffeine-reliant sub-plot.

It Needs: To explain where the mysterious commentary is coming from during the requisite final match.


It takes a great display from Will Ferrell to rescue this well-meaning but uninspired football-flick. It’s a save any great goalkeeper would be proud of.