June 11, 2008

300 Words About: The Foot Fist Way

You might know the story by now: Sometime ago, Judd Apatow saw a little indie film called The Foot Fist Way, which played at Sundance 2006 but wasn't picked up for U.S. distribution. Apatow showed it to Adam McKay, who showed it to Will Ferrell (the two being, of course, the writers of the greatest American comedy of the decade, Anchorman) , who along with McKay decided that it would be the first film produced (here, "presented") by their newly formed production company.

As seems to be happening a lot lately, I first heard about Foot Fist a few months ago at Craig Kennedy's Living in Cinema. He ended up attending a press conference and recounted his experience here. The most important thing to take from it was that yes, it was made for $70,000 by three unassuming friends from North Carolina, and no, nobody had any idea how well it would play to people who aren't friends of Ferrell, McKay, or Apatow. People like me.

Danny McBride plays Fred Simmons, an outrageously arrogant Tae Kwan Do instructor who drives a circa-1985 Ferrari and always thinks his blonde bombshell of a wife, Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic), is cheating on him (she is). Simmons naively idolizes Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best), a washed up, boozed up action movie star. For the most part, The Foot Fist Way is just footage of Simmons insulting his students and his wife while trying to get past the fact that Wallace isn't everything he'd hoped for in a role model (there's a little more plot than that, but let's just say you won't get lost).

Some of it is funny, most of it isn't. But statements like that really mean nothing since everyone has a different sense of humor. Even though you might laugh more than I did, though, you'll have trouble convincing me that the comedy was consistently there. There's too much training footage and not enough screen time for McBride, who has some classic moments when he's able to just sit down and let loose.

The Foot Fist Way will most likely live on as a cult favorite, and it's a fine start to what may end up being a decently long career for Danny McBride (he's in both Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder). It was made by three friends, it was shared among three friends, and I recommend watching it with three friends. Much of it you'll forget, but, depending on your humor, a few lines could be added to your "quotable-for-all-situations" list.


  1. Trawling around the internet there are a lot of people who liked this movie a lot more than I did. I guess what they say about humor being a matter of taste is true.

    I liked it, but didn't love it. I also give it bonus points for being a true indie. There's a freshness to it that you don't get in R-rated big studio comedies.

    I also liked how they sort of managed to humanize Fred Simmons and make you root for him without ever softening his character. He's pretty much a jerk from start to finish.

    Yet, there's no denying long stretches of not laughing which is too bad.

    Then again, who am I to argue with someone like AICN's Moriarity who declared it one of the best movies of 2007.

    Oh yeah, I'm me.

    You know, part of me thinks with some of these internet types, their crush on Judd Apatow is so extreme that they automatically love anything he touches.

    Just a theory.

  2. It really is a true indie, and you can tell the guys had fun making it. Sounds like their heads weren't too big at the press conference, either. The point about humanizing Simmons is great. Helps that his wife and The Truck are also terrible humans. I actually really liked that kid, Jose, though.

    Long stretches of not laughing? Yes, more than once, and it was deafening silence in the theater. Granted there were only 15-20 people, but still.

    Overall it's not a bad movie. If you discovered it at your local film festival you'd be thrilled. It's just not good enough for the masses.

    The Apatow thing is out of control, and it's fed on the internet for sure. Not that the guy isn't funny, but I'm pretty sure Knocked Up is the only movie he's ever written alone, even going back to Celtic Pride in '96. Sure, he's produced five movies a year for the last few years, but people too easily overlook ones like Kicking & Screaming and Drillbit Taylor.

    Anyway, the point is that while Foot Fist may not have made it out of North Carolina without him, he otherwise had absolutely nothing to do with it...

  3. Julio was awesome. He and Henry and most of the rest of the cast were actual students at the dojo where they filmed it.

    The thing about the long laugh-free stretches is that it's not like the jokes were falling flat, there just weren't a lot of jokes.

    Part of it is that they were aiming for more character based comedy so it would've been impossible to get a laugh a minute. Honestly, I think if it had been about an hour long or even 45 minutes it might've been great.

  4. Julio, of course. Not Jose. Yeah, Henry was great, too. I actually thought that kid could be a decent actor in the future - with some training.

    Yeah, I definitely meant that it was a lack of jokes, not just bad jokes altogether. Somewhere there I meant to write that the attempts at drama were really misguided. Agree for sure that it could have been cut down to straight jokes.


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