The Foot Fist Way
We have all met the person who could only be described as a big fish in a small pond. They might also be called empire builders; the kind of person who makes the most out of a relatively small achievement or slight amount of corporate power. Even if the person in question happens to be your boss you still laugh at him and his pompous ways as soon as five o’clock rolls around. The reason we laugh may be to avoid overly sympathizing with them. Somewhere deep inside we know that we might just act them same way given the correct circumstances. Now there is a opportunity to laugh out loud without any self doubts or apprehension. All you have to do is watch a little Indy comedy ‘The Foot Fist Way’ by Jody Hill. The main character is that kind of self important individual who when he steps out of his comfort zone is way out of his league. This is not a brilliant film but it is a worth while and solid comedy. Most comedies are based on the ridiculous situations the writers think up. Here Hill and his star, Danny R. McBride, create a character whose antics drive the humor. In order to get the joke you have to appreciate the character. This film was made on an extremely small budget and was shot in less than three weeks. This is fast and cheap even by independent movie standards and in many ways it looks it. The thing is the film is funny and that is what is most important in a comedy. There is no hidden social meaning to look for and no satire of current politics. All you get here is about an hour and a half of laughing. There are plenty of important films dealing with serious subject out there and by all means watch them. Just take an evening off from the woes of the world and forget it all as you enjoy this little flick. The DVD for this film is released by Paramount and if you could use a good laugh you should consider getting it.
It seems that most people who want to break into independent films take the easy way out and go for a slash and dash horror flick. It doesn’t take much to make a passable one that will thrill the teen market and it does provide experience for the new film maker. Hill thankfully chose to go in a different direction and create a comedy. He is new to both the writing and directing aspects of his profession and deports himself very well in both accounts. His writing partners in this project are also his co-stars in the flick; Danny R. McBride and Ben Best. While all three men are novices in the film world they show incredible promise with this opening opus. Together they weave a tale of a small town marital arts instructor, Fred Simmons as played by McBride. He doesn’t just play the role he becomes the character. In a now famous appearance on the Conan O’Brian show McBride came on as Simmons and the audience had a difficult time telling if the mistakes shown were real or not. It is this commitment to the character and the film that makes a silly little flick something to watch. Best plays the object of Simmons’ hero worship master martial artist Chuck "The Truck" Wallace. When Simmons finds his life disintegrating around him he tries to pull himself up with a spiritual journey to find Wallace. The fundamental premise here is simple and frequently used; make a hero out of some lamentable regular guy. Hill and his cohorts have taken on a lot here considering this sub genre includes the likes of Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Mister Bean. McBride is up to the challenge though with his incarnation of Simmons. He is overbearing and full of himself but there is just enough humanity to him that the audience can identify with him and even sympathize with his plight.
Hill’s directorial style comes off as straight forward but if you watch the film a couple of time you will pick up on little nuances that are great fun. He makes this film into a sometimes dark comedy. It is about a man losing everything after all. Key to the success of Hill’s direction here is his understanding of the difference between situational and character driven humor. Sure there are plenty of laughs at the ridiculous circumstances that Simmons is drawn into but the character is what makes the humor. To this end Hill concentrates on developing Simmons as a believable human being. Some of the jokes border on the inappropriate such as how meditation never helps a person being gang raped. This is an over the top comedy not suitable for younger audiences and if you are not easily offended you will laugh a lot.
Fred Simmons is a Tae Kwon Do instructor in a small town. He once won an international competition and has been riding that success for all its worth for years now. He envisions himself on the same level as his personal hero, Chuck "The Truck" Wallace. Wallace is an action hero in many popular ‘B’ action flicks. As the film opens Simmons has some of his very young students passing out flyers to local mothers hoping to increase his meager list of students. Simmons is getting ready to put on an exhibition with some of his students. He holds himself like a general preparing his troops for battle. He considers himself the king of the demo and goes off to the show. The demo in question is set in the parking lot in town. The kids awkwardly go through their moves in front of a barely interested group of on lookers. When it comes to the point in the show for Simmons to break a bunch of blocks with his elbow he manages to crack a few but it seems his elbow took the worse of it. The only thing Simmons loves more than Tae kwon Do is his wife Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic). Unfortunately the feelings are not reciprocated as is evident by her affair with her boss. When she finally leaves him for the other man Simmons’ is devastated. His life was not all that great before but now he is slipping fast. He loses most of his student and is left with being the fool of the area. He ultimately finds a new friend in Julio Chavez (Spencer Moreno) but even that does little to stop his descent. Simmons tries to prove his abilities to the world that he still has it by taking on anyone in a fight usually with disastrous results. Finally he embarks on a quest to find Wallace to challenge him to a bout.
This is in many ways a dark comedy that pushes good taste to the limits. It is the kind of flick that has to be understood almost on a visceral level. There is an unlikable quality to Simmons so you just might project him on an offensive person in your own life and get your laughs that way. No matter how you approach this film it will entertain you. Paramount has released it to DVD and it will make a very good addition to your home collection.