‘Kicking & Screaming’ is a sports comedy film that revolves around the relationship between Phil Weston and his father, Buck Weston. Buck is a highly competitive little-league soccer coach, as well as the owner of a successful chain of sports stores. He coaches the top team, the Gladiators, in the district, which his grandson, Sam, is also a part of. Not one to let anybody come between him and glory in the little-league soccer tournament, Buck goes so far as to transfer Sam – whom he doesn’t see as much of a player – to the Tigers, the league’s weakest team.
Infuriated and having experienced the same at his father’s hand, Phil decides to coach the Tigers himself with the help of his father’s rival. Directed by Jesse Dylan, the 2005 film features Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Kate Walsh, and Mike Ditka. A laid-back film, ‘Kicking & Screaming’ looks at the inexplicably competitive nature of little-league sports through a humorous lens and how it affects the adults involved more than the children themselves. But was there such a father-son rivalry mixed into little-league soccer? Read on and find out!
Is Kicking & Screaming a True Story?
No, ‘Kicking & Screaming’ is not a true story. The screenplay, written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, harks back to the children’s sports movies of the 90s like ‘The Mighty Ducks (1992)’ and ‘Little Giants (1994).’ The thematic elements of these two films – a former player, a hyper-competitive coach, an underdog team, and rivalry between two fathers – can be seen clearly in ‘Kicking & Screaming.’
Will Ferrell, who portrays the role of Phil Weston in the movie, takes on his role as an amateur little league coach with his usual comedic timing with some experience of his own in the children’s sports category. “I grew up playing a lot of sports, and everyone I think has experiences like the parents that were always yelling too…,” the actor said in an interview with Hollywood. But while the comedic elements are brought by Will Ferrell and his co-stars, the authenticity of the sports and the coaching expertise are brought by Mike Ditka, who depicts a fictionalized version of himself on the screen.
Ditka is a former football player and coach, and has even been a sports commentator at one point in time. His experience as a two-time winner of the NFL Coach of the Year award is quite palpable in ‘Kicking & Screaming,’ as he puts the children through grueling and hilarious training, carrying soccer balls inside a plastic bag and making them do laps around the field. Though a comedy film, Ditka’s seriousness towards it can be gleaned from the fact that he continued shooting even when his hip bone became displaced one day on set.
Will Ferrell revealed in an interview on ‘The Rich Eisen Show’ that after the displacement, Ditka simply called for the doctor on set and had them push it back into place, and then continued on with the filming as if it was nothing. A sports film that doesn’t take the sports part all too seriously, ‘Kicking & Screaming’ is a satire on the adults, especially the parents, involved in their children’s little-league competition like their lives depend on it.
‘Kicking & Screaming,’ through its fictional story of a father and son – both Peter and Buck as well as Sam and Peter – sends the message that spending quality time with your children and cheering them from the sidelines, whether they win or lose, is enough and would go a long way in creating a lasting bond with them.
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