First-time director Jody Hill, who co-wrote the script with longtime friends McBride and Best and has a small role as another bizarro Tae Kwon Do dude, wrings several raunchy, deadpan laughs out of this premise. But 'The Foot Fist Way' ultimately goes nowhere, and looks shoddy in a way that doesn't even have a kitschy appeal
LOS ANGELES - The Associated Press
Fred Simmons, the doughy anti-hero of the film "The Foot Fist Way," could be the kid brother of Ron Burgundy or a not-so-distant cousin of Ricky Bobby.
He's basically a low-rent version of the well-honed Ferrell persona: A swaggering fool who is totally deluded about his power and intelligence, a guy almost too obnoxious to bear. Yet there's something so obviously pathetic and insecure about him beneath the bravado that you find yourself inadvertently rooting for him.
So it makes absolute sense that Ferrell and partner Adam McKay would choose "The Foot Fist Way" as the first film they're releasing through their company, Gary Sanchez Productions. It's like looking into a mirror and liking what you see.
Danny McBride is just as pleased with himself as strip-mall Tae Kwon Do instructor Fred Simmons, a black belt with a beer gut who teaches everyone from little kids to senior citizens. There's a vaguely noble quality to the way he approaches the tenets of the martial art - self-control, courtesy, perseverance, integrity and indomitable spirit - or at least there's nobility in the way he talks about them.
In reality, he's a mess: His trashy blond wife, Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic), is sleeping around and the only way he can regain his confidence is to fight his idol, Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best as an arrogant Chuck Norris knockoff). That's the closest "The Foot Fist Way" comes to having anything resembling a plot; it's more like a series of episodes in which people get beat up and humiliate themselves, until it eventually ends.
First-time director Jody Hill, who co-wrote the script with longtime friends McBride and Best and has a small role as another bizarro Tae Kwon Do dude, wrings several raunchy, deadpan laughs out of this premise. But the movie ultimately goes nowhere, and looks shoddy in a way that doesn't even have a kitschy appeal.
All three attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, and their collaborative effort feels like a film-student goof, a prolonged in-joke among buddies that somehow found its way out to the light of day.
In some ways, though, that's a good thing: "The Foot Fist Way" isn't afraid to push the boundaries of taste, and it often punches right through them. Unlike Ferrell's characters, who possess an underlying boyish playfulness that lets you know it's all in fun, Fred Simmons might not be such a good guy deep down. He shamelessly hits on one student (Collette Wolfe) and, later, hits another - a scrawny boy - in a fit of misplaced anger. And he's verbally abusive to his young, chubby-cheeked apprentice Julio (Spencer Moreno), the one person who remains loyal to Fred no matter what.
At times, it verges on being overbearing, too much to watch - and yet you can't turn your eyes away for fear of missing whatever excruciatingly awkward moment might come next. (The hand-held, faux-doc style of camerawork also becomes tough to look at after a while.)
You'll probably have a hard time remembering the laughs and the visual gags afterward, but while you're in the midst of it, "The Foot Fist Way" can be a kick.