Very few people can deny that “Bad Santa” was a hilarious movie, so it is understandable why we have seen one of the best actors in Hollywood relegated to playing the same character over the past couple of years.
An Academy Award-nominated actor, Billy Bob Thornton stars as the character Mr. Woodcock, a name nearly as juvenile and unfunny as the film that shares the same name. While there are certainly a few “did he just say that?” lines that cause a decent burst of laughter, about 85 percent of those moments are covered in the trailer. If you want to have a chuckle and save $10, just look it up online.
If, however, you have nothing else better to do on a school night and find yourself at a movie theater with few options, then you’ll be treated to a paint-by-numbers comedy about a gym teacher so ruthless that his torment of John Farley (Seann William Scott) leads the youngster to write a self-help book entitled Letting Go: Getting Past Your Past during his mid-20s.
While celebrating with his publicist Maggie (Amy Poehler), who is one of the few reasons any scenes in “Mr. Woodcock” elicit any laughter, he learns that he’s been awarded the Corn Cob Key to the City in his former Nebraska home town.
Dropping in to surprise his mother (Susan Sarandon), Farley receives a surprise of his own when he finds out the man responsible for his lifelong problems is now dating his mom.
As you would expect, tensions rise between Farley and Mr. Woodcock, and Farley attempts to break them up but in turn hurts his mother’s feelings and causes her to lose the “best thing that’s ever happened to her.”
Farley and Mr. Woodcock realize they’re being selfish, make amends, and work together to get Mrs. Farley back. Add on a clich√© happy ending, and that’s all there is to the entire movie.
There are a few funny scenes with Farley’s childhood crush to make the movie longer than it needs to be, and before you know it, you are at dinner half an hour later talking about something other than the movie.
Worst of all, Thornton appears to be going through the paces and Scott, though a funny guy, seems to be a bit out of place. It works if you’re 12 years old, but if not, it’s the same movie you’ve seen 78 other times. That’s never a good thing. And neither is “Mr. Woodcock.”
1 1/2 stars out of 4