Dave White
Mr. Woodcock Review

Dave's Rating:

2.0

… feels like it was made 20 years ago.

Who's in It: Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott, Susan Sarandon, Ethan Suplee, Amy Poehler

The Basics: Scott's character is a famous writer of self-help books who had a bad experience in P.E. class as a kid. His sadistic coach tormented and humiliated him and left him scarred. Now, years later, that coach is dating his mom. It's up to Scott and his old school pals to even the score. Thornton is the titular coach, playing the same mean-guy role he's been relegated to in almost every comedy he does now — one he could play in his sleep. And I think he might be actually doing that here.

What's the Deal? Weak, intermittent comedy never really goes out of style, I guess, but this is so tired and lifeless it feels like it was made 20 years ago. You'd think that studio executives' practice of looking at a conventional comedy script and calling it "good enough" would have died out by now. The bar's been raised all over the place, in film and on TV and online, and it's embarrassing when movies like this don't heed the memo. And by the way, just a plot note, didn't everyone except the jocks have a bad time in P.E. class? Can you really hinge a whole movie on that?

Why Here, Why Now: It looks as though they're still burning off the bad August films, all the way into September. That has to be it. And they're also trying to bury it by opening it against more-likely-to-be-a-hit films. But it's the only comedy out there for young people who've already seen Superbad three times. So I suppose it'll take in something somewhere. Of course you could always not waste your money and just go see Superbad for a fourth time.

One Good Thing: Does Poehler never not hit it out of the park? Even in boring crud? She shows up every once in a while as Scott's publicist/manager/whatever and makes bolts of witty lightning shoot out of her face. And then she's gone again, which isn't fair to the movie. Or the audience.

Another Good Thing, One That in a Perfect World Wouldn't Need Mentioning: But that they allowed a 61-year-old woman to play the romantic interest of a 52-year-old man is almost mindboggling in its progressiveness. I mean, yes, it's Sarandon, who's almost supernaturally foxy, but still. It's like this movie was made on another, better planet.

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