Saturday, December 13, 2008

Movie #28: The Foot Fist Way

The Foot Fist Way, the literal English translation of tae kwan do, is a truly odd independent comedy---one which I'm not even sure what to think of a week after having viewed it. Whereas The Hammer (movie #22), another low-budget indie comedy, succeeded by making its title character a sympathetic loser, The Foot First Way attempts to succeed by making its leading man an unsympathetic jerk of the highest order. I can sympathize.

The film does a remarkable job of walking a fine line between reality and absurdity, helped considerably by the filmmakers holding tae kwan do in a sort of half-mocking reverence...which, admittedly, sounds rather paradoxical...not unlike the movie. Just when you think the movie is going to tilt to an unabashed silly comedy ala Will Ferrell (one of the film's executive producers), it reigns itself back in and does a good job of convincing the audience that, yes, these characters might actually exist. In many ways the movie reminds me of Reno: 911, just a bit more believable, a bit less silly, and a lot less funny.

While there are several laugh-out-loud moments, there aren't quite enough of them to generally say the movie is "funny", perhaps because of the movie's identity crisis. Nothing crystalizes this crisis better than the alternate ending on the DVD. In the theatrical release, Fred Simmons, the main character played by Danny McBride, rebuffs his wife's attempt to get back together by removing his wedding ring and pissing on it. In the DVD's alternate ending, he snaps her neck and then heads to a tae kwan do competition so he won't let his students down. And there you have The Foot Fist Way in a nutshell: to piss or murder...that is the question. It's an interesting film, and for that I give it some credit, but as a comedy it's only passable.

Grade: 5/10


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