Saturday, 19 September 2020
Mr. Woodcock
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 00:00
By some cruel turn of fate, for some unknown and mysterious reason, I must have been meant to see Mr. Woodcock. I was cozily ensconced in my cushy theatre seat at Trinity Drive, all settled in and prepared to watch Jody Foster’s latest movie The Brave One. I had already suffered through the requisite car commercial and requests to put cell phones on vibrate when POP! The whole theatre goes black and the emergency lights snap on one by one.

A few minutes later, an uncomfortable looking youth shuffles in to let us know that (surprise, surprise) the power has gone out and the early show has been cancelled! Cancelled – and not even a cloud in the sky! Since my self-imposed curfew is to be in bed by 11:00, my only option was to pick another film new to theatres. By default that turned out to be Mr. Woodcock. Yes, that’s right… the very freak laws of nature twisted my arm into seeing this movie. Or like me you can choose to believe it was a conspiracy dreamt up by the evil Billy Bob Thornton to make me watch his film.

In the film Thornton plays a jerky gym teacher who gets his jollies out of torturing the athletically inferior kids in his class. In other words, all us kids that “got picked last” are fair game for demoralization and abuse. Tell me when you think it’s funny.

Chubby kid John Farley seems to be a favorite target and the emotional scars stay with him into his adulthood. After becoming a best-selling author of self-help books John (Seann William Scott) thinks he’s gotten past the trauma wrought by Mr. Woodcock. But a trip home provides a rude awakening when it turns out that his Mom (Susan Sarandon) is dating the man who ruined his childhood. He decides to go head-to-head in a battle to break Woodcock’s steely demeanor, or break up the relationship with his mom.

This role is made for Billy Bob. Not only is it a repeat performance of his role in School for Scoundrels, but it is also a role that requires little to no facial expression. Perfect for those “after Botox” moments when even the slightest twitch of an eyebrow is exhausting and requires complete concentration.

I’m not sure what Susan Sarandon was thinking when she signed on, but she does make the most of her role and puts in almost too good of a performance given the resulting film. I found myself wondering how on earth this nurturing woman could stand Woodcock, since it seems pretty obvious he is a physically violent emotional cripple. Thornton’s character really has no redeeming qualities, except through a lame attempt to explain how his victims are all stronger people because of his abuse.

Seann William Scott is likeable in his role, but really not all that interesting. He’s kind of an all-American mama’s boy, all blond locks and pearly white teeth. It’s not nearly as funny or memorable as the role Scott will always be known for as Stifler in the American Pie series.

Sadly, the funniest thing about this movie is the title, and you can’t have ninety minutes of entertainment with only one joke. Despite the short run time, this movie felt much longer.

So, I hope your happy Billy Bob! Your cleverly executed power outage got you a few more viewers, but all your plotting won’t get you a good review from me! I give Mr. Woodcock 2 stars out of 10.