Kicking & Screaming (2005)


Kicking & Screaming is a 2005 comedy film directed by Jesse Dylan starring Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall. It focuses on the exploits of a boys' soccer team and their new coach.


Phil Weston (Will Ferrell), is an average person who has had to endure his father Buck Weston's (Robert Duvall) over-competitiveness throughout his childhood, an upbringing which has left permanent mental scars. Now middle-aged, married, with a young son named Sam, Phil runs a small vitamin store, whilst Buck operates a local chain of sports stores. Buck is coach of the Gladiators the most successful little-league soccer team in the district. Sam is on the squad, but to his dad's annoyance his grandfather keeps him as a benchwarmer rather than playing him, a humiliation he also visited upon his son decades prior. Buck eventually transfers Sam to the Tigers, the league's worst team. At Sam's first game with his new team their coach is absent. Rather than forfeit, Phil decides to coach the team, a position he takes up permanently. However, despite Phil's best efforts the team continues to lose repeatedly. In desperation Phil recruits Mike Ditka (played by himself), who is Buck's neighbor and hated enemy. Enticed by the opportunity to beat Buck, Ditka accepts the position. Despite grueling training, the team continues to lose. Ditka introduces Phil to two exceptionally talented Italian boys working in a local butcher's shop. Phil succeeds in gaining their Uncle's permission for them to play for the Tigers. They have an immediate impact, scoring repeatedly. The resulting winning streak makes them serious contenders in the league. After finally winning a couple of games and Phil said that his team was going to go to the finals, Phil and Buck make a bet, if the Gladiators win then Phil would sell his store and work for Buck. If the tigers win then Buck would hand over his most prized possession, 'The Pele ball', a baby ball struck by the famous player which Phil caught as a child and his father took from him. Meanwhile, Ditka also introduces Phil to coffee, which rapidly changes him from a mild-mannered caring dad, to a crazed, over-competitive coach, not that different from his father, abusing kids and parents alike. The team's mantra becomes "Get the ball to the Italians", which, though effective, demoralizes his team. In the ultimate over-competitive act he benches his own son for the whole of the semi-final game. Then, Phil's wife and Sam left him when Phil was unwilling to cooperate with her and play Sam in a game. The Tigers make it to the final where they face the Gladiators. At half-time the score is two-one to the Gladiators. In a heart-to-heart discussion with his son, Phil realizes the error of his ways. He tells his team to do exactly the opposite of what he taught them. Although the Gladiators score one more goal after half-time, they don't give up hope. Phil gives the goalie a vision test with glasses from the game watchers. From there, Ambrose scores one goal—making the score three-two. After another goal, the score is tied. The team rallys and produces a spectacular team performance to win 4-3, with Sam scoring the winning goal against his uncle Bucky (played by a young Josh Hutcherson), (Buck's child who was born on the exact day as Sam) using a move that he practiced when his dad benched him in the semi-finals. Honoring the bet, Buck tries to give Phil the ball, but Phil refuses. Making peace with his father, they merge their businesses, realizing there is more to life than winning.