|Kicking & Screaming|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jesse Dylan|
|Written by||Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick|
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Cinematography||Lloyd Ahern II|
Mosaic Media Group
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$56.1 million|
Kicking & Screaming is a 2005 American sports comedy film directed by Jesse Dylan and written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick. The film stars Robert Duvall and Will Ferrell as a father and son who exploit their own son's soccer teams to try and beat the other; Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh and Josh Hutcherson also star. It was released on May 13, 2005, received mixed reviews and grossed $56 million worldwide.
Phil Weston (Will Ferrell), is an average person who had to endure his father Buck Weston's (Robert Duvall) over-competitiveness throughout his childhood, an upbringing which has left permanent mental scars. Now middle-aged and married, with a young son named Sam, Phil runs a small vitamin store, while Buck operates a local chain of sports stores.
Buck is coach of the Gladiators, the most successful little-league soccer team in the district. Sam is on Buck's soccer team, but to his dad's annoyance his grandfather keeps him on the bench, a humiliation he also visited upon his son decades prior. Buck eventually transfers Sam to the Tigers, the league's worst team.
At Sam's first game with his new team their coach is absent. Rather than forfeit, Phil decides to coach the team, a position he takes up permanently. However, despite Phil's best efforts the team does not seem to improve. In desperation Phil recruits Mike Ditka (played by himself), who is Buck's neighbor and hated enemy. Enticed by the opportunity to beat Buck, Ditka accepts the position. Despite grueling training, the team continues to lose.
Ditka introduces Phil to two exceptionally talented Italian boys working in a local butcher's shop. Phil succeeds in gaining their Uncle's permission for them to play for the Tigers. They have an immediate impact, scoring repeatedly. The resulting winning streak makes them serious contenders in the league. After finally winning a couple of games and Phil said that his team was going to go to the finals, Phil and Buck make a bet, if the Gladiators win then Phil would sell his store and work for Buck. If the Tigers win then Buck would hand over his most prized possession, 'The Pelé Ball', a soccer ball struck by the famous player which Phil caught as a child and Buck took from him.
Meanwhile, Ditka also introduces Phil to coffee, which rapidly changes him from a mild-mannered caring dad, to an obnoxious, egotistical, over-competitive coach, not that different from his father, abusing kids and parents alike. The team's mantra becomes "Get the ball to the Italians", which, though effective, demoralizes his team. In the ultimate over-competitive act he benches his own son for the entire semi-final game.
The Tigers make it to the finals where they face off against the Gladiators. At half-time, the score is two-one to the Gladiators. In a heart-to-heart discussion with his son, Phil realizes the error of his ways. He tells his team to do exactly the opposite of what he taught them. Although the Gladiators score one more goal after half-time, they don't give up hope. Phil gives the goalie a vision test with glasses from the crowd. From there, Ambrose scores one goal--making the score three-two. After another goal, the score is tied. The team rallies and produces a spectacular team performance to win 4-3, with Sam scoring the winning goal against his uncle Bucky (Josh Hutcherson), (Buck's child who was born on the exact day as Sam) using a move that he practiced when his dad benched him in the semi-finals.
Honoring the bet, Buck tries to give Phil the ball, but Phil refuses. Making peace with his father, they merge their businesses, realizing there is more to life than winning.
The film ends with an adapted version of the "He's Got Balls" commercial originally produced by Buck. In it, the entire Tigers team appear, announcing the merger of Phil's vitamin shop--Phil's Pills--and Buck's Sporting Goods Store. The team shouts, after the "He's got balls" line, "And vitamins."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 42% based on 139 reviews, and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The script is mediocre and fails to give Ferrell a proper comedic showcase." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film 3/4 stars, saying that it was "an entertaining family movie". David Palmer gave the film 3.5/5 stars, saying that Ferrell and the film were much funnier than "a PG-rated kids film has any right being".
Kicking and Screaming earned $52.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $3.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total $56.1 million, against a production budget of $45 million.