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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Fair
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The Foot Fist Way: Low blows

The Foot Fist Way is being billed as this year's Cinderella story, a movie that came out of nowhere and, thanks to a wave of Will Ferrell's magic wand, got invited to the ball. But I wonder whether this sports-movie spoof has what it takes. The sport in question is tae kwon do, which means "foot fist way" in Korean, but Foot Mouth Way might have been a better title, since the main character, a strip-mall sensei with a cheesy mustache, keeps sticking his former in his latter. Think Steve Carell's Michael in The Office, only after the forehead's been pounded through a few cinder blocks. A tae kwon do instructor who treats everybody like slabs of meat is a funny enough idea; Ferrell must be kicking himself for not having thought of it first. But you have to flesh that kind of thing out, and Danny McBride, who plays the role, doesn't vary his approach. He's as obliviously obnoxious at the end as he was at the beginning.

That wouldn't matter, of course, if he ever landed a punch on our funny bones, but he never got near mine. You can see what Ferrell likes about the character, though; it's a Will Ferrell dum-dum on steroids. When the movie opens, he's merely rude, so full of himself that you start to wonder how he gets his head through doorways. But when his wife (Mary Jane Bostic), a porn-star-ish sex kitten, admits to having lent a hand to a horny office mate, our hero goes ballistic, annihilating, one by one, the Tae Kwon Do Five-Point Code of Honor: self-control, courtesy, perseverance, integrity and indomitable spirit. He'll get them all back, eventually, but not before making a royal fool out of himself and getting his royal ass kicked. Assisting him in these endeavors is Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best), a bottom-barrel action-movie star who shows up just in time to bonk the sex kitten.

And why shouldn't he? Everybody else does. The view of women here is, to put it mildly, tasteless, in a Russ Meyer, the-girl's-gotta-have-it kind of way. But the view of men isn't much better, which I would have been willing to put up with if the movie ever made me laugh. In its defense, the audience I saw it with seemed to be having a good enough time. And tae kwon do, as you know, is partly about defense. It was the other part, the offensive part, that left me flat on the mat.

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