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      The Foot Fist Way Review

      The Foot Fist Way poster

      The Foot Fist Way

      Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

      There comes a moment in any major film festival when the crowd is pooped and nobody's had enough sleep and everybody's had it with the earnest, well-meaning human dramas. Then something offering a couple of laughs hits the screen, and before long there's a cult hit in the making.

      "The Foot Fist Way," which killed, they say, at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago, is one of those success stories, success being defined by famous fans (in this case, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise) and a distribution deal (Paramount Vantage, by way of Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company). Director and co-writer Jody Hill's goof about a North Carolina strip-mall tae kwon do instructor and his delusions of grandeur has everything an underdog needs to attract attention. It's almost funny, or theoretically funny. It's just not actually funny. I missed it at Sundance. Maybe I saw it after too good a night's sleep.

      Co-writer Danny McBride plays Fred Simmons, whose wife is stepping out and whose hopes crystallize in the person of B-level movie star Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (played by the third writer, Ben Best). Fred's dream is to entice The Truck to make a personal appearance at the studio. For about 15 minutes "The Foot Fist Way" squeaks by on no-budget moxie. Then you begin to miss the ingredients that can make a small comedy succeed in a big way, things such as pacing and detail and a fresh attack on a familiar archetype, in this case the Boobus Americanus whose universe knows no lack of ego. McBride is a one-note boor.

      There's one fine bit of phrasing when someone talks of getting "really drunk - like, Myrtle Beach drunk." Most of the rest of the picture staggers and wanders and feels far longer than its 85 minutes, and it's best considered a calling card for better things to come.

      MPAA rating: R (for strong language and some sexual content).

      Running time: 1:25

      Starring: Danny McBride (Fred Simmons); Ben Best (Chuck "The Truck"); Mary Jane Bostic (Suzie Simmons).

      Directed by Jody Hill; written by Hill, McBride and Best; photographed by Brian Mandle; edited by Zene Baker and Jeff Seibenick; music by The Dynamite Brothers Pyramid; produced by Jennifer Chikes, Erin Gates, Jody Hill and Robbie Hill. A Paramount Vantage release.

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