It's not that I hate The Foot Fist Way, because I don't. I can look at a film like this, see the raw talent poured into it, see what Adam McKay and Will Ferrell saw in this when they picked it up and found it distribution, see why it caught on as a pass-around film in Los Angeles a couple of years ago.
But I don't like it. Not one minute of it. More importantly, I don't like what it represents -- this new, cutting edge schadenfreude comedy that feels like Seinfeld cranked to 11. It is mean, brutal, and it wants you to laugh not at the comical situations that its characters are in, but at the awful human beings that these characters actually are.
You're not supposed to like them; you're not supposed to identify with them. You are supposed to loathe them, pity them, and then laugh yourself silly at their well deserved misfortune. You're supposed to see your jerk of a boss, your despicable brother-in-law, your angry, incompetent neighbor in all of these people. And you are supposed to delight in hating them all the way through to their sad, bitter ends. It is not a comedy that sends you off into the world loving life or laughing at the truths we all share. You are supposed to walk away smiling and relieved ... because at least you don't have it as bad as that guy.
The Foot Fist Way is a malevolent, hateful film that abhors its main character with the fire of a thousand suns. He's a small town Karate teacher and an arrogant jerk who is absolutely wrong 100% of the time. He's a racist, a misogynist, and he says the single most inappropriate thing you can imagine at any given moment. And it's not going to end well for him, all for the sake of comedy. Now certainly I understand that this is part of the experimental movement going on in the back rooms of Hollywood comedy, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't connect with it.
That said, it is incredibly easy to look at this film and see why Danny McBride is getting so much work these days. That name might not ring a bell, but his face sure will. He's in everything right now. If it's a comedy, he's got a role in it. Hot Rod, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Drillbit Taylor, The Heartbreak Kid. The guy came out of this movie swinging, on his way to being a comedy star. But make no mistake, despite the fact that this film finally saw release this past summer, it is already old hat in LA. Hell, I saw this thing over a year ago myself and that was long after everyone else was watching it. Once people saw this, they had to get McBride somewhere, anywhere, into their comedy. And more often than not, he's the best part of it.
But maybe you think I'm wrong -- maybe you think I'm dead wrong. Maybe this is some of the funniest stuff you've ever seen. Then have I got a DVD for you. For an independent film, this thing has more extra features than you can shake a stick at. An extra half-hour of McBride being a horse's ass to everyone he meets; a bizarre 20 minute "behind the scenes" featurette that is actually 20 minutes of silent footage shot on a cruddy, out-of-focus 8mm/16mm camera, set to homemade trance music, which proves to be a very strange meditation on the making of the film; and an even meaner, more distasteful ending. There are a few bloopers, but that's where the disc begins to fall short -- it's just two scenes in which the actors flub lines disguised as a blooper reel. Combine that with commentary and you have yourself a couple extra hours of The Foot Fist Way. If that's your thing. For me, not liking the film, it was several more hours of not liking it.
Although this gave Danny McBride his career, I really can't forget about this film fast enough. The Foot Fist Way is available from Paramount Vantage on September 23.