Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Kicking and Screaming

a.k.a. Soccer Dads
MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements, language and some crude humor

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

Moviemaking Quality:

Comedy, Sports
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
Featuring: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Kate Walsh, Mike Ditka, Musetta Vander
Director: Jesse Dylan
Producer: Jimmy Miller, Charles Roven
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

EXCESSIVE PERFECTIONISM—How can I get my perfectionist husband to back off and not be so picky with our kids? Answer

AUTHORITARIANISM—What is the difference between being authoritarian and authoritative? Answer


Parenting—Questions and Answers

All his life Phil Weston has dreamed of being on a winning team. Phil… your time has come.

I have played on teams coached by both types of men portrayed in “Kicking and Screaming”; men like Buck Weston (Robert Duvall) who will do whatever it takes to win, and demand nothing short of greatness from their players. Then there are the other coaches, the ones like Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) who don’t know a whole lot about the sport and seem to have inherited the job from a pre-game raffle. The problem with the coaches who fall into the latter category is that once they get lucky enough to notch a few wins under their belts, they feel invincible and develop an arrogance worse than the coaches to whom winning is a way of life.

Phil Weston was always one of those guys who sat the benches during his sports days. That is normal for a lot of kids I suppose, but the only thing different about him was the fact that it was his father Buck who put him there. You see, Buck is a coaching legend in the town, and since his son Phil isn’t ever going to be remotely described as athletic, he let Phil sit the bench during his soccer seasons. One flash back shows little Phil on the bench, asking his father if he can at least go in and play for a minute during the championship game. Buck says the game is far too important to let Phil play, but promises, “I’ll play you next year.”

Phil is grown up now, and his son Sam, starts the film playing on Buck’s soccer team, the Gladiators. Unfortunately for Sam, he has inherited Phil’s not so athletic genes, and rides the bench, just like Phil did. Buck doesn’t really want his grandson to be a benchwarmer, so instead of actually letting him play for the undefeated Gladiators, Buck trades his grandson to the Tigers, the worst team in the league.

This naturally infuriates Phil, and when the Tigers coach disappears after their first loss, Phil is pushed into the role of coach. He is in way over his head, with kids who appear to be as “athletic” as Phil was back in the day. But, Phil is determined to show his dad that he can make the Tigers a winning team, and enlists the help of Buck’s neighbor (and mortal enemy) Hall of Fame football coach Mike Ditka.

Ditka brings his own coaching style to the team and whips them into shape faster than Phil could ever have dreamed. After all the rigorous training the kids endure, they still aren’t winning. So, the two coaches go out and recruit a pair of Italian brothers who don’t speak English, but are amazing on the field and begin teaching their tricks to the other kids. With the Italians whipping the opponents on their own for the most part, it sets up the inevitable battle between father and son, soccer coaching legend versus a sports nobody, for the championship.

The content of the PG rated “Kicking and Screaming” is probably normal for the genre. There isn’t much language, with a few uses of the word “hell.” In a fit of rage, Ditka tells Phil to “Go to Hell” with the players and their parents listening. There are also a couple of crude references (Buck is a sporting goods store owner, and his slogan for himself is “He’s got Balls”). Some parents may be concerned about the presence of a lesbian couple whose son plays on the team. The film doesn’t promote anything per say, but I know there are parents who probably don’t want to expose their children to that, which is why I am mentioning it here.

The cocky attitude displayed by Phil once the Tigers start winning may also be of concern to some parents. Phil becomes outright mean, calling kids “fart faces,” “losers,” and even running out onto the field and knocking a child over from the other team. The film would probably be more appropriate for older children, but I would advise parents to watch it themselves first before letting kids under 10 see it.

In the end, “Kicking and Screaming” is a lot like all the other movies about kids and sports, although there are some neat soccer sequences. Now, I don’t know if the scenes were authentic (plus, soccer is the only sport I never really got into, so I wouldn’t be able to tell if the scenes were real or not), but the ones featuring the two young Italian boys were extremely impressive.

I suppose what separates this from other films of the genre is the performances of Will Ferrell and Mike Ditka. I guess how strongly you like this film will depend on your opinion of Ferrell, because he is up to more of his usual stuff here. And normally I am not a big fan of using star cameos in films, because it often indicates a weak story that needs the boost only a star playing themselves bring. But Mike Ditka is great as the neighbor who will do anything to get under the skin of Buck, the neighbor he says he has hated “even before we meet.”

If parents are at all fans of Will Ferrell, and tired of the very kiddy G and PG fare that comes along, “Kicking and Screaming” is a fairly pleasant, and thankfully fairly clean, experience.

See list of Relevant Issues.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/nudity: Minor

Viewer Comments
Negative—Enduring Will Ferrell’s new movie “Kicking and Screaming” is almost as bad as suffering through an insufferable sitcom where the stereotypical dad is always the moron, and the kids are always the smartest brainiacs in your 5th grade math class. However, Will Ferrell does deliver enough laughs to keep the crowd engaged.

“Kicking and Screaming” is a supposed family comedy about a grown up father and son who never quite clicked. Mostly because the father (Robert Duvall) is the most competitive sports fanatic of all time, to the point where he trades his own grandson to the opposing soccer team. Things start to flare, when less then capable dad (Will Farrell) of recently traded grandson decides to take on the job of coaching the worst team in soccer, so that his son does not sit on the bench. Things start off goofy with Will Farrell making the typical idiot out of himself, being the moronic father image who realizes that he cannot win a single game without recruiting his father’s arch enemy, Mike Didka and adopting two almost pro soccer players recently moved from Italy. Mike Didka finally start to win games and Will Farrell begins to feel the sweet smell of victory. Leading him to make a HUGE bet with is dad on who wins the Championship. Soon Will Farrell turns from kind hearted idiot, to absolute evil and cruel idiot.

With the help of Will Farrell’s more than genius wife and incredibly forgiving son, Will Farrell sees the errors of his twisted ways and he turns back into just the normal idiot that he always was.

“Kicking and Screaming” makes every attempt to make every single male image in this movie either weak, moronic or cruel. Without exception, there is not even one strong male figure and not even one person who possesses any leadership quality in the movie what so ever. Instead the heroes of the bunch of Lesbian ladies who have adopted a child, the wives of the idiotic husbands, and the children who are told to do the opposite of the leadership given and they will win.

On a positive note: There was a great lesson to be learned toward the end, when Will Farrell does make his apology and ask for forgiveness for his behavior. Forgiveness is not just a manly trait but a human and spiritual trait that must be learned by every man, woman and child. Sadly this principle is quickly overshadowed by then telling his team not to listen to him and to do the opposite of everything they have been told.

Why PG? Crude Humor referring to the male anatomy, crotch hits on a regular basis of the male leads, and for just a few mild bad words. There is not any sexual humor, sex or nudity of any kind.

I cannot recommend this movie for children because in the end, the message is horrible, and there are too many things that children will emulate when the movie is over. In fact, there is a scene where a kid is kicked by his dad on the shins, meaning to be a bonding moment between father and son, but the dad kicks too hard. After the movie there was a kid who walks up to his dad and purposefully nails a blow right to his dad’s shin. (Can we all say NOT COOL!)
My Ratings: Average/2½
John Kehrli, age 31
Negative—“Kicking and Screaming” is what I’d be if I had to watch this movie again. This is has got to be the worst movie I’ve seen all year. And yes, I walked out of it. What annoyed me was the part about the lesbian parents. I spent $7 to see this stinker and all the manager could give me after I walked out was a free pass.

I’m usually a fan of Will Ferrell’s comedic schitcks. but I hated his character…him being the clueless adult and the kids naturally being smarter than him. Hopefully, the remake of Bad News Bears will be better than this stinker. It got a 42% rating on and it is well deserved. In fact, I wish it had a 10% rating because I can’t understand how anyone over the age of 11 could enjoy this movie. “Elf” was charming, this is not. If I had my way, this would be a nominee in the Golden Raspberry Awards.
My Ratings: Offensive/2½
Shannon H., age 23
Negative—Sadly, I didn’t wait for this Web site’s review before taking my three children to see this movie. BIG MISTAKE! We had to leave the theater. (Bad language, completely dysfunctional relationship between father and son to the point of cruelty, and lesbian parents portrayed in a positive light.) Critics said this movie was funny for all ages, but I was appalled at the content.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/3
CS, age 37
Negative—…perhaps I am too “old-fashioned,” but I am sorry we spent our time and money on this movie. It reflects very few of the family values we wish to instill in our children. Most of what the movie attempts to teach (which is positive) is done in a backwards manner—95% of the movie focuses on doing exactly what one should not do. Very few, if any, biblical worldview concepts are present. Many things contrary to scripture are evident: neighborly hate vs. love thy neighbor; use others vs. serve others; lesbian marriage, divorce vs. sacred marriage; win at all costs vs. eternal values; addiction/obsession vs balance.

I feel badly that all of the men in this movie are portrayed as bumbling fools with excessive competitiveness and the wives play the role of disciplinarian/witch. The only “healthy” marriage relationship—where the partners interact appropriately—is the lesbian mothers. I was sad, too, that much of what brought laughter from the audience was unkind, unacceptable behavior (the coach taunting a child or knocking an opposing player to the ground, the “I’ve got balls” advertising etc). The only favorable comment I can make is that end of the movie has a positive message. I’d recommend going outside and playing soccer with your kids instead of watching this movie.
My Ratings: Average/1½
Billie Jo Youmans, age 41
Negative—What a crummy movie. Offensive in many ways. A lesbian couple for comic material, a coach addicted to caffine who attacks a child player, physically and a second verbally. What a waste of acting ability all round. Don’t waste your time.
My Ratings: Offensive/3
Mike, age 37
Neutral—Waste of time amd money, very dissapointing!
My Ratings: Average/1
M. Hughes, age 34
Negative—This movie was awful in plot as well as acting. I wish I would have read a review beforehand. I was thinking that it being a PG movie… would make it good… This had to be the worst movie I have seen in a while. The acting and all of it was just awful. I can’t believe the actors in this movie even agreed to put this kind of trash out. Will Ferrell plays a lame dad and the whole thing just stinks. It was quite offensive to me to have the lesbian family in there and all the do gooder stuff they tried to get across just made me gag. I wish I could shout from the mountains to tell everyone—this movie was awful. No laughs, I even fell asleep at one or two points. Why I didn’t get up to leave is beyond me. I just kept hoping it would get better. There is no comparison to the last movie he was in, Elf. I don’t know what happened, but this is a weak and sad movie.
My Ratings: Offensive/1
Ali, age 43
Negative—I wish I had known better before bringing my 4 children to see this film. There was some objectionable language, disrespectful comments to others (kids repeat everything). However, my biggest regret was having to explain to my oldest daughter how the adopted little boy’s parents were both women, and they make it very clear that they are a couple, incase it went over the kids heads the 1st or 2nd time, they get their point across! Very disappointed, and regretful!
My Ratings: Very Offensive/3
Jessica Funderburk, age 28
Positive—This was a great PG comedy with very little if ANY objectionable elements in it. Some may be upset by the lesbian couple portrayed, but it’s a fact of the world that we live in that there are people who choose that lifestyle. Instead of shoving it down our throats, they simply hint towards it and in no way do they glorify such a lifestyle. Although not as quality as Elf, I think this is a great family movie that is worth enough laughs to watch again. Will Ferrell is by far the best comedian currently, and proves it by turning this run-of-the-mill script into a funny movie. I am very excited as well that Will Ferrell is still willing to do movies like this and Elf that are PG, so those of us who enjoy him but are offended by movies like Anchorman can still see some of his work.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3½
Andrew, age 20
Negative—The Movie, a typical Will Farrel type movie was toned down for a younger audience than is usual. It is funny and entertaining if you are a fan of the star. I, however brought a six and ten year old and was quit dismayed that the parents of the players that got the most attention were the Lebians with the adopted Asian. In their introduction they were cited as the “best” team parents because of their high level of attendance to practices and games. Then they were repeatedly interjected into the movie. Are Christians and conservatives who feel that Liberals are attempting to indoctrinate children into accepting liberal world view crazy? This Movie is another attempt at just that.
My Ratings: Offensive/3
Paul, age 48
Negative—This was an all-around bad movie. The plot was thin and the acting was subpar. I noticed only two times that the theatre audience laughed out loud. My daughter didn’t get half of it. And for that I’m thankful, thanks to the lesbian couple. This isn’t just your usual positive homosexual character, this is a couple and they make that very clear. At one point one of the women has her arm around the other woman. Its not that my children may not at some point, even on their soccer team, encounter a gay couple(though unlikely in suburbia, no matter what Hollywood thinks), its that I don’t want them portrayed as the norm. Of course, if we met a couple we’d be kind to them… but we don’t want our children thinking that gay couples are as common as hetrosexual… which is Hollywood’s agenda. Even if the gay couple were left out it would still be a stinker of a movie! Save your money.
My Ratings: Offensive/1½
Lisa Shafer, age 39
Negative—The preview for this movie was deceiving. We were so offended by the things we saw in the first 30 minutes that we had to get up and leave. This movie is not fit for children or adults. The movie portrays homosexual relationships in a positive light and biblical marriages between a man and woman in a bad light. I was ashamed to even be there. Ratings don’t mean anything anymore.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1
Leigh Ann, age 25
Negative—I was very disappointed with this movie. I felt there was no redeeming quality whatsoever. Watching 2 grown men act like children is not entertainment—it’s very sickening. I want my sons to grow up to be gentlemen and to treat others with respect and fairness. I was offended with the reference to the lesbian couple and should have walked out at that point. But, I didn’t want to bring attention to that part of the movie and fortunately my kids didn’t ask about it. The humor was very crude and went way over the heads of my children (mainly because we don’t refer to the male anatomy as “balls”). I could not recommend this movie to anyone. I wish I had read this movie review before going to see “Kicking and Screaming.”
My Ratings: Offensive/2
Carla, age 34
Positive—I must admit that, based on all the negative comments on this page, I was reluctant to see Kicking and Screaming. Well, I’m glad I went, because this was a hilarious movie. Although the inclusion of the presumed lesbians was completely unnecessary, the rest of the movie was pretty unobjectionable. Sure, the characters (particularly the three leading men) had some serious flaws, that’s generally what comedy is all about, and Kicking and Screaming would have been a dud if these guys were had everything together in their lives. Who’d want to sit through 90-minutes or so of normal life?
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
G E Wood, age 47
Neutral—…I got a little concerned reading some of the parent reviews. I’m just writing to tell parents that you NEED to talk about homosexuality with your kids. Don’t ignore it and think that they won’t figure it out. They WILL. I PROMISE. And its a lot worse if they have to figure it out alone, without your guidance. (And I’m promising this to you not as a public school student, but as a homeschooled, “sheltered” kid). Don’t think that you can “protect” them from knowing. Not knowing is not protection. Not knowing is only making them weaker for when they have to stand up for their beliefs in the future. Bad stuff, including homosexuality is something that kids will HAVE to deal with sooner or later. No parent can protect them from that, but parents CAN prepare them for it.

Please, whenever you see a movie, don’t shy away from the negative stuff. I know those conversations are tough, but they’re important. I’m not saying that you should go see bad movies just so you can talk about the bad stuff with you’re kids—all I want to get across is that if you do go see this movie, start thinking ahead to how you can use the woman-woman relationship portrayed (and the other not-so-great stuff) to really talk to your kids about what is right. Above all, don’t ignore it—it won’t go away.
My Ratings: Average/2½
Beth Ann, age 18
Positive—Yes, Kicking and Screaming is stupid. Yes, Kicking and Screaming invloves a lesbian couple in a movie that is geared towards younger kids. Yes, Kicking and Screaming is completely improbable. And no, I rarely ever like any movies in the “ridiculous humor geared-towards-kids” genre. So why in the world did I like Kicking and Screaming?

First of all, consider today’s “comedy” movies. Today’s comedy is nowhere near the “Dick VanDyke” and “I Love Lucy” comedy of years past. It regularly involves vulgarity and crudity. However, Kicking and Screaming, it is BY FAR some of the most mild stuff in today’s comedy when you consider the genre as a WHOLE. Certainly, it is no “Elf”; it is rightly rated PG. If you go, expect stupid, over the top humor and some negative elements.

Second, this movie does bring a lesbian couple into the picture. I don’t agree with the homosexual lifestyle in any way, shape or form, and I was surprised that they included this in a kids movie. However, homosexuality is a part of today’s culture, like it or not. Parents, as an eighteen year old, I KNOW that it is REALLY important to discuss stuff like this with your kids. In this movie, lesbianism is not glorified (although it is not condemned either). If you do choose to see the movie, this lesbian couple gives you an EXCELLENT opportunity to discuss the homosexual lifestyle with your kids in a family context.

In the end, its up to you, as a parent, what to see with your family. I know that as a nine year old and under, a lot of the “bad stuff” would have gone over my head. Like I said, I’m 18 and I’ve made more than a few bad, bad movie choices, so quite a bit of the negative stuff in the movie seemed mild to me. In fact, a lot of it was so improbable that, while many adults may be disturbed by the crotch kicking, dysfunctional family and male stupidity stuff, a lot of kids really won’t pick up on it or take it seriously. I think that everyone ultimately leaves the theatre with the message of forgiveness and “winning isn’t everything” in their heads rather than the more negative messages (such as “don’t listen to Phil”). I know that my 12 year old sister was able to navigate the truly negative “not funny” gags, the “so stupid they’re funny” stuff and the truly funny lines without a problem. She came out of the theater knowing exactly what was right with the movie, exactly what was wrong with the movie, and very happy that my mom didn’t have to lean over and tell her to shut her eyes to block out any “adult” scenes.
My Ratings: Average/3
Anna, age 18
Positive—I went with my 10-year-old daughter to see this movie. It started out great, then of course being a movie in Hollywood, they had to make parents of one of the parents lesbian. I whispered to my daughter and asked if she understood what was going on and she said, “Yes, they’re gay.” We made it a learning opportunity and I told her that gay people are everywhere in the world, and that although that behavior is wrong, God loves them as much as He loves us, and he wants us to love everybody. I kept waiting for them to be portrayed as the heroes in the movie, but it didn’t happen. There was no kissing or hugging between them. I don’t want my children or us avoiding gay people, because they really need to see positive examples of how Christians live and love.

I’m glad we stayed for the whole movie because in the end the coach realized how badly he was acting and asked for forgiveness. Who among us doesn’t need to do that? The father realized he was putting winning ahead of his son’s needs and changed that as well. The grandfather and father made up in the end as well.
My Ratings: Average/3
Victoria Beninga, age 51
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was excellent. I laughed all the way through. If you have a problem with this movie or were offened by it in any way, while you are entitled to your opinion, I would say that you should lighten up. If you were offended by thiss movie you are way to easily offended… You may argue that Will Farrel went a little crazy and was trying to teach the kids wrong morals such as fouling but don’t get caught. But ultimately in the end It had a positive outcome. Which is really all that matters. For those of you who didn’t give this movie a chance and walked out before the end, well You missed a good flick.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
Josh Loomis, age 16
Positive—I wish there was a rating between average and better than average. If there were, I would put it there. It was a funny movie, I won’t deny that. But there were problems.
  1. The language was most disappointing. The “h” word was the only one ever used, but they said it quite a few times.
  2. The lesbian parents made me uncomfortable. The fact that they used it as a joke and portrayed it as “different in a good way” was disappointing.
  3. Phil does go nuts about winning. He is cruel tp the kids (and occasionally their parents). However, this is actually part of the movie’s lesson, because in the end, he realizes what a jerk he’d been and apologizes to the people he hurt and goes back to the kind-hearted, fun-loving guy he used to be.
Other than that, this movie was good, and doesn’t go long without making you laugh. It also makes for some good discussion afterward.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
Matt, age 13
Positive—Kicking and Screaming was a very funny movie! There was just a few parts that some people might find objectional, but that should not keep you seeing it! It was very cute! Go see it!
My Ratings: Good/4
Nicole B., age 14
Positive—This movie was great! It taught me some great soccer moves, and it taught me that family, no matter if competitive, or anything like that is the most important thing you have.
My Ratings: Good/5
Kailey, age 11
Neutral—Clean movie, but the plot and humour isn’t funny. It’s all mediocre Will Ferrell humour.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
Jeremy Duluth, age 19
Movie Critics
…an entertaining family movie… sweet and pretty funny…(3/4)
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…A family comedy starring Will Ferrell as a little league soccer coach? Score!…a suitable-for-all-ages comedy…
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…enjoyable and often quite funny…
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…“Kicking and Screaming” scores, even if it’s not playing a very challenging game… A formula kids’ sports comedy that wisely keeps its focus on the most overgrown child…
Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News