I tried to think of funnier Billy Bob Thornton films than his latest
tepid comedy, "Mr. Woodcock," and came up with the following: "Bad News
Bears," "Ice Harvest," "Pushing Tin," "Friday Night Lights," "Bad
Santa," "Monster's Ball" and "Sling Blade." Heck, even "Goodfellas and
"Passion of the Christ" had more laughs than this pointless piece of
dredge which takes the worst elements of "Meet the Parents" and "The
Girl Most Likely To," although with none of the charm, intelligence or
humor of these pictures.
After viewing this movie, however, I have a new-found respect for such comedic works as "R.V.," "Are We There/Done Yet?," "License To Wed," "Guess Who?," "Soul Plane," "King's Ranson," "My Baby's Daddy," "Little Man" and any of the "Scary Movie" versions.
So, I suppose the experience wasn't all terrible ...
Ah, but this film was. With two Academy Award-nominated lead actors (Thornton, nominated for "Sling Blade" in 1996, and Susan Sarandon, winner in 1995 for "Dead Man Walking") joining up with Seann William Scott ("American Pie," "Old School") one would think some snickers would result, but few come about.
The plot has Williams as John Farley (where's CHRIS Farley when we need him?), a successful self-help author, whose latest book, "Getting Past Your Past," is climbing the bestseller charts. This notoriety allows him to be honored by his small hometown in Nebraska.
Going back to receive the Corn County Key honor, his trip home only results in the depressing reality that his mother (Sarandon) will marry his old gym teacher, Mr. Woodcock (Thornton). Woodcock was not only an intense physical education instructor, but a sadist.
He humiliates, insults and verbally berates his students, throws balls at them, forces them to run laps and do push-ups as punishment, even those with asthma. But he saves his special vindictiveness for Farley, whom he delights in abusing - mentally and physically. He throws him to the ground repeatedly while teaching wrestling moves; and even forces him to undress and do pull-ups in front of the other students.
Now, if something like this REALLY took place, one of the pupils would have surely mentioned it to SOMEONE, and disciplinary action would have been taken against Woodcock. But, evidently, for over 20 years, no one has ever said anything bout this abuse, so the town decides to honor him as educator of the year - to be given at the same time as Farley's.
Also, everyone in the berg seems to love the old guy, while Farley's significant other, Tracy (Melissa Sagemiller, "The Guardian") admits to having a crush on him.
Meanwhile, dredging up all of those bad memories and combining them with the fact that the evil man is having sex with his mother, causes Farley to abandon his nice, passive, positive philosophy and do everything he can to bring Woodcock down. In this endeavor, he utilizes the aid of his extremely stupid friend, Nederman (Ethan Suplee, "My Name Is Earl"). In fact, the only likable character is Maggie (Amy Poehler, "SNL"), Farley's bitchy agent.
He challenges him to a workout contest, as well as a series of carnival midway games and even a corn-eating contest. None of these situations is even remotely funny in any way, shape or form. During its mercifully-short 90-minute run, I laughed just twice - once at the very beginning, and once at the very end.
That last guffaw was no doubt brought on by the delirium of the closeness of the closing credits, however. And longtime commercial director Craig Gillespie (in his film debut) doses out the "comedy" with large slices of schmaltz, as well as a muddled conclusion, leaving patrons wondering off to movies like "Death Sentence" and "The Brave One" to satisfy their urge to laugh.
Action / Comedy / Romance / Sport
Action / Comedy / Romance / Sport
Fatherless John Farley's youth frustration, even trauma, like many his school kids' in his Nebraska small town home, was the constant abuse and humiliation in sadistic Jasper Woodcock's gym class. After college, doting son John became a motivational bestseller author and returns during a book signing tour to receive the backwater's highest honor. To John's horror, his devoted mother Beverly announces her plans to marry the hated coach and he's to be celebrated on the same event as John. Only ridiculous fatso Nedderman and his strange brother try to help Farley stop Woodcock, but that keeps backfiring.
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July 05, 2016 at 11:57 AM