Disappointing Mr. Woodcock fails to finish

Film leaves audience with a dry taste in its mouth

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mr. Woodcock montage

MY NAME IS MR. WOODCOCK AND I LIKE TO HIT MY STUDENTS. Even Billy Bob himself could not save this stale comedy from becoming a box-office flop.

Mr. Woodcock
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Sean William Scott, Susan Sarandon

0.5 stars

A film that combines the blunt, in-your-face humour of Billy Bob Thornton with veteran goof-off Sean William Scott would appear worthy of praise.

Unfortunately, Mr. Woodcock is a half-assed film not worth the audience’s time or money.

The film opens with gym teacher Jasper Woodcock (Thornton) berating the boys in his class. While Mr. Woodcock’s humiliation tactics have its moments, his hazing borders on child molestation " and that isn’t funny.

For instance, Mr. Woodcock orders the young and portly John Farley (Scott) to strip down to his underwear in front of the class and do chin-ups because he’s forgotten his gym clothes.

The scene also features Mr. Woodcock pacing up and down the gym floor, randomly approaching students. He demands they step forward and spread their legs while he takes a swing at their genitalia with a bat to make sure they came “prepared for class.”

The sexual abuse is unsettling and undermines whatever credit Mr. Woodcock could have earned.

In terms of humour, Mr. Woodcock is filled with repetitive, uninspired jokes. Alongside the obvious puns on the word “Woodcock” and other various phallic references, Mr. Woodcock doesn’t offer anything new.

For example, the characters in Mr. Woodcock are agonizingly dull. Mr. Woodcock is limited in range; although Thornton plays Mr. Woodcock well, his countenance rarely shows evidence of joy or any other emotion besides the stern, stone cold attitude native to his character.

Similarly, Scott fails to break out of his trademark, zany style of humour so adored in the American Pie series.

Susan Sarandon is solid, but it’s a shame her character is limited to mediating the tension between Mr. Woodcock and her son John instead of being given the opporunity to flesh out her role.

Director Craig Gillespie presents a tired and predictable sequence of events that leaves the audience frustrated rather than laughing.

Still, Mr. Woodcock wouldn’t have so been so terrible if it had bothered to change sets every so often. The film only occurs within a handful of locations, all of which are uninteresting.

Indeed, the film had a clean impact on the audience. “Famous Players should circumcise Woodcock and put movie-goers out of their misery,” quipped one movie-goer as he left midway through the two-hour misery marathon.

Mr. Woodcock is a complete waste of time " avoid this film like the plague.

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