Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Foot Fist Way (2006)

After seeing Redbelt, it was strange to finally catch up with the comedy The Foot Fist Way and find that it uses a similar premise and tries to play it for laughs. While Redbelt’s Mile Terry was a Jujitsu instructor whose spiritual purity was at odds with the world around him, Danny McBride’s Fred Simmons is a Tae Kwan Do instructor who grounds himself with the teachings of his craft even as his life is unraveling before his eyes. McBride is solid here, and a great deal of the humor in the film arises out of the way he reads his lines and the odd poses he strikes and facial expressions he uses. Otherwise, though, The Foot Fist Way is a huge disappointment, a film completely absurd and amateurish in its execution that would’ve been much better served as a short. There is little or no story to be found, which director Jody Hill makes up for by inserting countless montages of kids doing Tae Kwan Do in slow motion, and even at only 85 minutes the film feels interminably long. Not unlike Napoleon Dynamite, which the Foot Fist Way mirrors in tone, this is a movie that tries to derive the majority of its jokes from ridiculing its main character. Nearly all of its attempts at humor are based around Simmons' clearly misguided belief that he is a successful guy and a serious martial artist despite his beer belly and the strip mall location of his academy. That’s a premise that would be hard pressed to stay amusing for the length of a comedy sketch, let alone a feature film. But beyond this, there is very little on display here. Even the introduction of Ben Best as Simmons’ hero Chuck “the Truck” Wallace (a clear reference to Chuck Norris) is completely wasted for possible jokes, and the ending confrontation at a Tae Kwan Do demo feels painfully tacked on. What little sly humor is on display here comes from Simmons’ relationship with his wife, played by Mary Jane Bostic, and Hill’s occasional use of slapstick camera work, like a goofy camera move employed when Fred learns his wife has been cheating on him. Other than that, some of the movie’s best lines, like when Bostic describes herself as having been “Myrtle Beach drunk," aren’t likely to register with a number of viewers, and do very little to overcome The Foot Fist Way's considerable faults.

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