Mr. Woodcock

Way back when this movie was supposed to come out, it looked like it may be funny. After seeing the trailer for what seemed to be a thousand times, I cared less and less about seeing Billy Bob Thornton in another one of his typecasts. Speaking of typecasts Seann William Scott has been like old faithful, churning out one “same role, different name” character after another. So what is the result of all this mediocrity and predictability? Mr. Woodcock.

John Farley (Seann William Scott) is a best-selling self help author who is going home to be honored by hit home town. He is in for a big surprise when he finds out that his mother is marrying his grade school gym teacher Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton). Woodcock used to torment and embarrass John, which helped him become the self-help guru he is today. The two battle for John’s mother’s love, sometimes at her her expense.

This film has been “coming soon” for what feels like five years. Was it worth the wait? Probably not, because if you were lucky enough to see the trailer for almost a solid year then you saw all the best parts. It’s not the actor’s or director’s fault that we see a trailer over and over again to the point of mental numbness, but the outcome can’t be avoided. Mr. Woodcock is as advertised but fails to pay out at the end, and left me feeling shortchanged and unfulfilled at the end.

Billy Bob Thornton reports to his station, ready to sling insults without a moments pause. Seann William Scott is right on cue to deliver lines with a bit too much comic enthusiasm. This is what we have come to expect from these two actors, and this is what we get. Don’t expect anything different. Thornton makes fun of little kids and old people, again. We all know Thornton can bring more to the table than to make fun of old people and little kids, but he takes the route of that drunk uncle at Thanksgiving. He walks into the room, says all of his nasty lines, eats his turkey and punches out. Scott gets sensitive about someone giving it to his mother, again. He makes funny faces, and gets all rowdy to make the Stiffler fans proud.

The film was predictable, and provided little for laughter or entertainment. It was filled with the same old jokes that we have become accustomed to with these two actors. Director Craig Gillespie probably did what he could with a script that was likely tailored for the two actors in mind. The only solace is knowing that Gillespie’s other film this year, Lars and the Real Girl, looks awesome. Maybe Gillespie was just paying the bills with this one, but putting his passion into a higher calling.

The Upside: Billy Bob Thornton, though its been done before, is really good at insulting people.

The Downside: A predictable, train-wreck mesh of multiple films.

On the Side: Check out director Craig Gillespie’s other film of 2007, Lars and the Real Girl.

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