11 April 2009

Movie Review: The Foot Fist Way


The Foot Fist Way
2006, 82mins, R
Director: Jody Hill
Writer (s): Danny McBride, Jody Hill, Ben Best
Cast includes: Danny McBride, Ben Best, Mary Jane Bostic, Tyler Baum, Spencer Moreno
Release Date: 30th May 2008 (Limited)

“The Foot Fist Way” is an exercise in the comedic overdose, a concept that might have worked well as a series of skits or a short film but drawn out to feature length it gets old really fast. It marked the first big opportunity for the now fairly popular Danny McBride and the opening directorial gig for Jody Hill (who is helming this week’s “Observe and Report”) yet it’s hard to understand why either man has been handed such astonishing career opportunities. The film hints at serious comedy talent but never consistently delivers it and was seen theatrically by next to no one. Apparently it was picked up by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell which probably goes someway to explaining how both men have garnered such big breaks, because their film ultimately isn’t up to scratch.

The story follows Fred Simmons, a delusional Tae Kwon Do instructor who is obsessed with his martial arts studio, his student’s progress and movie star Chuck “The Truck” Wallace. As a result of his martial art filled lifestyle his wife cheats on him and thus leaves Fred in a state of mental disrepair, becoming even more embroiled and obsessive concerning Taw Kwon Do than before. As his world tumbles around him Fred decides only one person can make it right, and so along with a creepy friends and a two students he goes on a road trip to convince his idol “The Truck” to put in an appearance at his end of year testing’s.

I wished I had laughed more at “The Foot Fist Way” because when the movie gets it right it genuinely delivers. I’ve liked McBride in virtually everything I’ve seen him in, particularly last year’s “Pineapple Express” and this film is no exception. Without McBride “The Foot Fist Way” would be a considerably dumpier comedy, this represents one of those occasions that without the leading man the film would probably have been reduced to worthless tatters. McBride has an acerbic wit and sarcastic tongue that would be preferable on any comedian, and in this movies better moments they are nearly always on display. One has to remember that this was McBride’s first genuine attempt at comedic success and ultimately despite the patchy finished article that goal was achieved. With the like of “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder” now on his CV there seems no reason why McBride should have to stoop back to the unimpressive regions occupied by “The Foot Fist Way”.

Jody Hill stages the film in a mockumentary style fashion, probably more for economic reasons rather than artistic. Shot on such a shoestring budget it would be cruel to criticize the picture for a lack of visual flair or audacity, but there really is no excusing the unimaginative screenplay. A few good situation gags and acid tongued one liners aside the movie is never really that funny, and the story is just flat out lazy. It took three screenwriters including the leading man to come up with the insipid and hastily staged story of comedic redemption, and despite what I hope does not represent their best efforts I wasn’t buying it for a second.

I would have liked to recommend “The Foot Fist Way” but that fact of the matter is I can’t, it’s too ineffective and uninspired to warrant anything more than a shrug of the shoulders and unenthusiastic expression. I’m glad some of the guys working on it have now climbed higher mountains because they’re obviously talented, and frankly because it should allow them to never have to wallow in this level of comedic mediocrity again.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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