Kicking & Screaming
dir. Dylan
Opens Fri May 13
Various Theaters

Will Ferrell is funny. In fact, he's very funny. Why, Will Ferrell might even be the funniest mainstream comedian working today! MAN! Is he ever funny!

And ever since Ferrell's shtick allowed him to stand out on (and eventually leave) the embarrassing dredge that Saturday Night Live has become, he's been in a ton of movies. And most of those were pretty funny, too.

With tepid response, Ferrell dabbled in more serious film with Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda. But now he's going into a far riskier genre: The PG-rated family comedy. Kicking & Screaming has Ferrell playing Phil, a boring dad who enters the cutthroat world of kids' soccer.

But unlike Ferrell, Kicking & Screaming isn't very funny. Kicking offers family friendly jokes and trite morals--there's hardly ever an excuse for Ferrell to indulge in his madcap, absurdist, self-deprecating comedy, as he did in Old School and Anchorman. No, in Kicking, Ferrell has other priorities: Namely, trying to invigorate a tired cliché of a plot, which has a coach making a bunch of adorable loser kids into adorable winner kids. (With its bland suburban setting, whitewashed characters, and annoying kids, Kicking was apparently made only so Beaverton's families can take a two-hour break from their real life existences of bland suburbia, whitewashed neighbors, and annoying kids.)

Throughout, there are glimpses of a far funnier movie: When the otherwise laidback Phil gets addicted to coffee, slams caffeine shots, and turns into a hyperactive, hyper-competitive asshole. (Funny.) Or when, enraged, he tries to start fights with little kids. (Funnier.) Or when he knocks down a little kid for no reason. (Fucking hilarious.) But most of the time, Ferrell's ignored in favor of sparse, kid-suitable jokes and a sappy, parent-approved morality. I still think Ferrell's really fucking funny--but it says a lot that throughout Kicking & Screaming, all I wanted to do was go home and pop in my Anchorman DVD.