Andy's Review of Mr. Woodcock

  • 7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
    Mr. Woodcock

    Mr. Woodcock (2007)

    [center][font=Garamond][size=6]MR. WOODCOCK[/size][/font][/center]
    [center]director: Craig Gillespie[/center]
    [center]PG-13, 87 minutes, New Line[/center]

    [center]I don't think I could ever get tired of Billy Bob Thornton digging into his [i]Bad Santa[/i]-bag of tricks to create similar characters full of relentlessly ruthless humor, and even though that's what he's done a couple of times since making that hilarious Terry Zwigoff film in 2003, it just hasn't quite worked. No matter how good Thornton is in a film, and he has shown that he is never capable of being anything but magnificent, there's no denying that the material has to be up to par with the performance. That obviously has not happened for him in a comedy since [i]Bad Santa[/i], with the first piece of mediocrity being last year's [i]School For Scoundrels[/i], and now it's Craig Gillespie's long-delayed release, [i]Mr. Woodcock[/i]. [/center]

    [center]The film is about a sinister physical education teacher, Thornton's Mr. Woodcock, who devastates his adolescent students' self esteem as a personal hobby. One of those students, John Farley, has grown up to become the successful author of a self-help book, mostly fueled by the actions of Mr. Woodcock thirteen years earlier. Seann William Scott plays Farley, who is coming back to his Nebraska home for the first time in a very long while, and to accept the town-honored "Corn Cob Key". So the table is set for some major confrontation to begin, again, with Woodcock and Farley when he finds out that Woodcock is dating his mother. It is extremely important to a physical comedy like this to have a good-guy lead opposite Thornton that can hold his own ground, and although Seann William Scott had shown promise early in his career, has done nothing to capitalize on it since the [i]American Pie [/i]series ended. Here he cannot do anything to generate good laughs, and especially in the scenes without Thornton is where he fizzles out to a tremendous degree. Susan Sarandon is shamefully underused and dimly written as Farley's mom, and another good talent is wasted. [/center]

    [center]There are a few situations that worked some laughs out of me in [i]Mr. Woodcock[/i], and all of them being when Thornton was able to let loose on his own. Unfortunately there is a far too small amount of times when the great actor gets to dominate key scenes in the film, and instead the movie becomes Scott's, which is its downfall. Amy Poehler does some fill-in supporting work and is just so Poehler-ish. I've been amused by the actress at times in other things she's done, but she never really seems to break out the same old character shell she has been playing since her career began, which is the loud-mouthed and egotistical bitch from hell that won't take no for an answer. In this film, she does it again and is only funny about half the time...just like everything and everyone else, except for Thornton obviously, who never reverts away from his scornful demeanor, even when everything else in the movie does. That is the only thing that can save this movie from total disaster. Instead, it's just a plain ol' bad movie. [/center]

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