Review: The Foot Fist Way
PLOT: Fred Simmons is a Tae Kwon Do instructor who thinks he has it all together. That is, until he finds out his wife has a tendency to cheat on him. Somehow he tries to incorporate what he teaches to his students into his own life. But with his “whorish-acting” wife, and his encounter with his less than worthy idol, he realizes that he needs to really take control. But not in the bogus take charge way he tells his students they should do. And this will be tested when it all comes down to a ranking ceremony, which will be as important for him as it is for his students.
Imagine if a real life Hank Hill, possibly younger and with more of a temper, was a Tae Kwon Do instructor. That is the first impression I had after watching THE FOOT FIST WAY… a comedy which Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are obsessed over. And it is not hard to see why. This unique cross between OFFICE SPACE and NAPOLEON DYNAMITE offers up a new kind of leading man. Danny R. McBride shines as Fred Simmons, the near-do-well who suffers from illusions of grandeur. Sure the guy seems to have it all under control, but you know that he is just a man living in the shadows of those he admires. And who does he admire? That would be Chuck the Truck Wallace, a Hollywood B-movie actor who Fred seems to think is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Ben Best as Chuck is also quite terrific here as this arrogant loser who thrives on his fans who seem to love this guy no matter how bad his movies are.
What I really loved here is how we see Simmons. This is a man who can’t keep his marriage together. His “trophy wife” Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic) seems like she is interested in screwing anyone she can aside from her husband. And she is able to get away with it while Fred just continues to believe that he has his life under control. Both Bostic and McBride are so charismatic together. I loved this relationship. Even with all the lies and the over-the-top nature of this marriage, I believed every minute of it. This poor sap can’t keep his marriage in order, and he also seems to have a little too much blind faith about his abilities to instruct his Tae Kwon Do classes. But for some reason, most of his students look to him as the epitome of cool, well… maybe second only to Chuck the Truck.
When I watched Foot Fist Way, I purposefully went in knowing very little about the film Although, I was a fan of Danny R. McBride from his work in ALL THE REAL GIRLS and HOT ROD. He has this utterly “real” quality to him that seems to work in both comedy and drama. And even though Foot Fist Way is very funny, it also has a sort of tragic quality. And interestingly enough, it really works as a sports film also. You really want Fred’s students to shine. A friend of mine is a karate instructor and there is so much here that reminded me of what he does. The relationship with his students is explored very well. You can see why his students look up to this “king of the demo”. I did have a bit of a tough time believing this guy would be hitting on his pretty new student, Denise. Not that Collette Wolfe isn’t a major hottie, but I felt it detracted from his sometimes painful, unconditional love for Suzie.
While the film does play the wildly misunderstood Fred for laughs, it never really makes fun of him. More so, it laughs at the situations he finds himself in. I loved when he tells his wife that she is acting in a whorish behavior… he is so in love with her that he can’t bring himself to just call her a whore outright. It is funny in a ‘ouch, that sucks’ kind of way. It seems that this guy finds everyone he loves or respects, hurting him in a number of ways. He is pushed so far, that finally, he has to push back. And push back he does in what reminded me of an old Eighties sports flick, but with humor and integrity intact. This is a funny and original film. And while I didn’t laugh as much as I would have liked, I still found it to be a pleasurable experience which might even get better with further viewing.
Director Jody Hill is able to bring this charmingly vulgar script written by Hill, McBride and Best to life. His work, especially with the sports aspect, is really commendable. There is no reason the “action” sequences should work as well as they did here, but they do. Yet as funny as the film is, it does suffer a bit with a few performances that are a little too real (amateurish) and it also might not have as many laughs as one would hope. I still had a wonderful time and I am looking forward to seeing this again. I would love to see more films like this released. These quirky and charming (although crude enough for today’s audiences) comedies seem to rarely get much of a theatrical release. I hope that The Foot Fist Way finds an audience. It is definitely worth your time.
My rating 7.5/10 -- JimmyO