Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Get Your Fill with Woodcock

Mr. Woodcock

Release: 09/14/2007
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 27 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

Seann William Scott (Final Destination) stars as John Farley, a self-help guru whose book “Letting Go” has garnered him his hometown’s most prestigious honor, the Corn Cob Key. Ignoring both his book tour and agent, Maggie, played by Amy Poehler (Blades of Glory), he returns home to surprise his mother, played by Susan Sarandon (Alfie). To his surprise, he finds mommie dearest in the arms of his middle school tormentor, gym teacher Mr. Woodcock, portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa). As all his childhood insecurities return, Farley throws his self-help wisdom out the window to try and break up the happy couple, supposedly for their own good.

After Billy Bob’s disappointing outing last year, “School for Scoundrels,” my expectations for this were pretty grim. Fortunately, I fretted over nothing. Pairing Thornton alongside Scott generated a spark of hilarity. I think Thornton plays berating and belligerent best when insulting children, which you’ll understand if you’ve ever seen “Bad Santa.” He makes smacking children and destroying their self-esteem an art form. Together, Scott and Thornton’s constant banter and silly shenanigans succeed due largely to perfect timing and great delivery. They don’t even need much comedic support, though Ethan Suplee (TV’s: My Name Is Earl) as Farley’s old classmate and Poehler are funny, though sorely underused. In the meantime, Sarandon hits her marks and cashes her check, which is kinda sad.

Written and directed by relative newcomers, this guy comedy is definitively that, a guy comedy. Sarandon is there mainly to look and act like a frisky mom while Poehler handles Scott with a pair of brass cojones. The writers try throwing an old school crush into the mix for Farley, but the time would have been better served adding more embarrassing situations and slapstick. The story was never meant be a romantic comedy and though it treads a predictable path, the laughs Thornton and Scott generate make it more than agreeable.

Dirty Undies
It’s a shame this couldn’t have been made as an R-rated affair. Demeaning and degrading dialogue seems just a bit better when peppered with a few more obscenities. But Scott and Thornton rise to the task and are as vulgar as one can hope. Though sex appeal is noticeably non-existent, accolades of Woodcock’s prowess is enough to get more than a few ruffles furled, even if not in the way you’d hoped.

The Money Shot
This excels partly because everyone has had a “Mr. Woodcock” in their life. Reaching back I vaguely remember a particular high school English teacher who thought my best writing efforts had to almost certainly be copied and not mine own. Ah, I can feel the ire building already. That familiarity and the hilarity “Mr. Woodcock” provides, makes this a fun, fond film.

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1 comment:

  1. Seann William Scott was in Final Destination? I've only seen it once, but don't recall him in it.

    True, I could look it up, but...no.

    I think the only way I'll see this is if I'm in the mood for a "male sex organ puns" double feature (with Balls of Fury, naturally) when they're on cable/video in three months.

    Not likely. Though I agree on the Billy Bob/kids points.