THE FOOT FIST WAY (Dir. Jody Hill, 2006)
I really wanted to like this low budget comedy. It was filmed in my home state (in Concord, NC), made by former North Carolina School of the Arts students and The Varsity where I work is the only theater in the whole state showing the movie.
So for obvious reasons I was pulling for it despite the first wave of so-so reviews. Comedian Patton Oswalt (best known as the voice of the rat in RATATOUILLE), who has no connection to the film except that he’s a fan, wrote this response to Keith Phipps’ lukewarm review of the film at the Onion A.V. Club (Phipps rated the film a “C”) which was another factor that got my hopes up. I mean Oswalt, whose stand-up comedy I love, used words like “genius”, “unique comic vision” and called it “a brilliant little movie” so you can see why I was on board there too.
The film being the first production of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay was less encouraging because Ferrell’s last few sports comedies have, well, sorta sucked so that doesn’t really have the pull it used to. Unfortunately this film about a strip-mall Martial Arts instructor (Danny McBride) has only about 3 or 4 laughs in it.
McBride plays Fred Simmons whose deluded ego, cheating wife, and connection to his students is supposed to engage and amuse us but he’s not a likable nor even unlikable enough of character to do anything but annoy.
As his slutty wife, Mary Jane Bostic gives a pretty wooden performance (even during a sex scene!) but with such flimsy material I don’t think it really refects on her as an actress.
Director Jody Hill fares a little better as a pretentious Tae Kwon Do master and writer Ben Best does a decent turn as coked-up asshole Chuck “The Truck” Wallace - a movie star who McBride worships. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE-style buzz is highly unlikely to be generated by this lackluster effort - any few random hours of Comedy Central will bring bigger laughs.
Like I said I was wanting to root for this scrappy underdog film from my Southern state but I find it very hard to see the “brilliant little movie” in THE FOOT FIST WAY that Patton Oswalt promised so I can only offer this 2 paragraph “Meh” as my response. Maybe if I had some of what he was smoking when he watched it I’d feel differently.