Mr. Woodcock (PG-13)

Comedy 87 September 14, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
Bad Santa gets worse every time he trots out the same mean routine; does anyone at this late date recall a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton in which he doesn’t yell at retarded fucking kids and bark at their stupid parents? After coaching the Bad News Bears to ruin and flunking out of the half-witted School for Scoundrels, Thornton is forcing kids to take a lap while pelting them with basketballs in Mr. Woodcock. Among the gym teacher's poor pupils is a chunky lad who grows into a self-help guru (Seann William Scott) who looks a lot like Stifler from American Pie and returns home in best-selling triumph, only to discover his mom (Susan Sarandon, poor gal) has shacked up with Woodcock. In an instant, the self-help guru is self-helpless in the same house as his childhood tormentor, with whom he wars until the final few scenes, in which all’s well that ends well. (If you think that’s a spoiler, you’ve clearly never been to a movie.) Amy Poehler ekes out a smirk or two as a boozy publicist trying to keep her paycheck, but even the best gags feel like leftovers. In other words, this Woodcock is a strictly flaccid family affair. Bet you saw that coming, too.
Craig Gillespie Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott, Susan Sarandon, Kurt Fuller, Amy Poehler, Jennifer Aspen Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert Robert Cooper New Line Cinema

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