New Line has finally seen fit to release Mr. Woodcock, a Billy Bob Thornton-Seann William Scott comedy that’s undergone extensive delays and re-shoots since originally being scheduled to hit theaters in early 2006, delivering pitiful pratfalls and parents-having-sex jokes that are well past their sell-by date. The same holds true for Thornton’s performance, which once again finds the actor tediously rehashing Bad Santa by cruelly mocking and humiliating young (and often fat) nerds and dorks. Here, he’s a tyrannical gym teacher who throws basketballs at students, makes them strip down to their tighty whiteys and do chin-ups in front of the class, and taunts them with rhetorical questions, an educational method that leads chunky John Farley to grow up to become a self-help guru (Scott) whose book advocates letting go of the past. Stopping home while in the midst of a promotional tour, John discovers that his mother (Susan Sarandon, participating in this lazy crap for inexplicable reasons) is now dating Woodcock, a nightmarish scenario in which John reverts into an adolescent wimp while attempting to compete with his nemesis for Mom’s affection. First-timer Craig Gillespie takes his directorial cues from the Dennis Dugans and Frank Coracis of the world, which is to say his film is straightforwardly ugly and devoid of any comedic invention or energy. Mr. Woodcock knows lots of verbs that mean “having sex” but screws up virtually all opportunities for humor, including the promising yet thoroughly squandered crazy-lady pairing-up of Amy Poehler and Tyra Banks. The only liveliness comes from Scott’s hyperactive mugging, though no amount of frantic jumping around and acting like a buffoon can conceal the tiresome broadness of every punchline-lacking scenario. “There are a lot of losers out there,” opines Woodcock. And this, unequivocally, is one of them.
- New Line Cinema
- 87 min
- Craig Gillespie
- Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert
- Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott, Susan Sarandon, Ethan Suplee, M.C. Gainey, Amy Poehler
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