Sunday, March 09, 2008
The Foot Fist Way
Fred Simmons is one hell of a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Actually, he's not. He's pretty terrible. And unbelievably deluded about his position in the world. And kind of a jerk. And as played by Danny McBride, one of the damn funniest comic characters on screen in a long time. Almost rivaling Ron Burgundy in sheer arrogance and comedic brilliance.
The Foot Fist Way tells the story of Fred Simmons, as his life slowly unravels due to a cheating wife. Driven by rage and anger, he eventually goes on a road trip with with two of his Tae Kwon Do students to see a demo of the legendary Chuck "The Truck" Wallace. That's as close to story as the movie gets. I feel awkward making the comparison, but the movie has a Napoleon Dynamite kind of feel: Very loose and free flowing, full of random one-liners and a few physical gags that kill, and even though it seems like not much is happening, it's pretty hilarious.
Of course, this movie isn't really about story. It's about performance. A brilliant performance, to be precise, from Danny McBride.
Danny McBride (not the one who co-wrote those crappy Underworld movies, the guy from Hot Rod and Heartbreak Kid) plays Fred Simmons perfectly. Everything the man says is comic gold. McBride commits himself mind, body and soul to this character and the results are pure hilarity. Simmons is the kind of person that you don't ever want to spend too much time with. He's an ass, and he's bound to make any situation that much more uncomfortable. McBride seems keenly aware of this and pushes this as far into squirming territory as it can possibly go.
Take the scenes with Denise, a cute young girl who's interested in Tae Kwon Do. Any scene that involves her, and Fred's "relationship" with her just makes you wish the scene would end for her sake. But for the audiences' sake, it continues. And keeps going. To brilliantly funny conclusions, mind you.
The movie is full of characters and one liners, most of which you'll miss from laughing too hard the first time. Ben Best (who along with McBride and director Jody Hill, co-wrote the film) is quite good as The Truck, a fading martial arts star and Fred's idol. And Jody Hill has a brief turn as Mike, a level-5 black belt, which means nothing because he doesn't believe in levels. And Mary Jane Bostic as Fred's hot and slutty wife is spot on. And the kid who plays Julio, Fred's young apprentice at the dojo. Everyone in this movie brings their game on, and delivers.
Rumor has it that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were slipped a tape of this, and loved it so much they threw their names behind it in order to give it a wider audience. And it's easy to see the appeal, especially because Fred Simmons is the kind of character that Will Ferrell excels at: The deluded, egotistical, blinded to reality (and non-sequiter spewing) know it all jerk. It's an apt comparison, and Ferrell and McKay have done a good job in getting this out there.
If there is any justice in the world, The Foot Fist Way will become the movie that college kids pop on with their drunk friends and quote ad infinitum. It's not a movie about gags and set ups, as much as it's about subtle, dry humor, deranged characters, and hilariously wrong lines of dialogue. I'm going to go out on a limb, and say even with the the onslaught of Apatow flicks coming out this year, you will be hard pressed to find a movie funnier than The Foot Fist Way. You owe it to yourself to see this movie, and help Danny McBride become the huge comedy star that he deserves to be. You'll thank me afterwards.
Bow to your sensei!