- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

“The Foot Fist Way” could become this summer’s sleeper hit. You have to wonder if the big-studio subsidiary (Paramount Vantage) and the star-studded production company (Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions) that picked it up really, deep down, want that to happen. This ultra-low-budget film proves you don’t need millions of dollars, big-name stars or a dream team of writers to make a standout, laugh-out-loud comedy.

This debut film was made for just $70,000. It looks that way, sure - but the low production values and the close-up camera style only add to the cinema verite look of this film that feels so real.

Written by Ben Best, Jody Hill and Danny R. McBride, who all appear in the film, “The Foot Fist Way” takes its title from the literal translation of the Korean martial art tae kwon do. Mr. McBride stars as Fred Simmons, a slightly pudgy instructor and self-proclaimed “King of the Demo” who runs his strip-mall dojo with an iron fist. Really - he’s not above pummeling his school-age or elderly students just to make a point.

He’s not nearly so hard on his wife, Suzie (a frighteningly pitch-perfect Mary Jane Bostic), though he probably should be. The bleached-blond, short-skirt-wearing slattern starts a new job, and when Fred finds photocopies of her naked chest, she admits she cheated on him with her boss. Thus begins Fred’s spiral from “TKDKING” (as the license plate of his Ferrari 308 reads) to a man fighting for, if not his dignity, at least some semblance of honor.

I can’t convey the film’s flavor by quoting any of its best lines - it really deserves its R rating. I can say that if you like “The Office” in either its British or American incarnations, you’ll probably laugh as hard at “The Foot Fist Way.” With his pathetic delusions of grandeur, Fred Simmons is just as painful to watch as Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. Yet over the course of this bracing comedy, the pathetic Fred garners no small measure of our sympathy. After all, who hasn’t stood in front of the mirror alternately declaring, “I’m a champion” and, “I’m a … phony”?

***

TITLE: “The Foot Fist Way”

RATING: R (Strong language and some sexual content)

CREDITS: Directed by Jody Hill. Written by Ben Best, Jody Hill and Danny R. McBride.

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

WEB SITE: thefootfistway.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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