What You Need To Know:
MR. WOODCOCK is one of those comedies where the hero’s calm façade is broken down through comic confrontations. In the process, the hero discovers valuable lessons about his own life and the human condition. Thus, there are kernels of truth in the often funny MR. WOODCOCK. These kernels, however, come with foul language, vulgarities and crude sexual references, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
(PaPa, B, LLL, VV, SS, A, DD, MM) Strong mixed pagan worldview with some pop psychology, some stoic philosophical points that are somewhat Spartan in nature, and some positive, but too light, moral elements; 39 obscenities, man appears to mouth the “f” word, five strong profanities, 10 light profanities, one or two blasphemies, and euphemistic talk about a past off-screen scatological moment in two places; some strong comic slapstick violence such as face of man in gurney hits pavement, some tough wrestling take downs of children and adults, going underwater in a pool, teacher throws rubber balls at a couple students, gym teacher makes sure students are wearing plastic athletic supporters by hitting them with a bat, man falls and slides into barbells, etc.; strong sexual content includes sounds of sex between engaged couple, references to implied fornication between unmarried couple, and formerly married minor character admits she was and is a sex addict; no nudity; incidental alcohol references; a reference to drug use; and, strong miscellaneous immorality used for comic effect and thus is mostly rebuked such as physical education teacher verbally abuses middle-school students, one-upsmanship between two characters, son tries to break up mother’s wedding plans, and former students try to get revenge against teacher.
Nearly every boy in the United States has, at some time, had a no-nonsense physical education (phys ed) teacher like Billy Bob Thornton’s character in the new comedy MR. WOODCOCK. Although the abusive character here is obviously exaggerated for comic effect, there’s a truth about a character like this that is undeniable. As someone once said, if there’s not a grain of truth in your comedy, then it probably isn’t funny.
MR. WOODCOCK opens with flashbacks to the time when fat little John Farley was picked on by Mr. Woodcock, his phys ed teacher. Now that John is in his 20s, the painful memories of being in Mr. Woodcock’s class have been replaced with the self-confidence gained by John becoming a successful writer and motivational speaker.
John learns his small Iowan hometown wants to award him the “Corn Cob Key” at its annual “Cornival.” To the consternation of his uncaring tour manager, John decides to interrupt his book tour to go home and surprise his mom, Beverly. John’s happiness quickly turns to angst and despair when he learns that his mother has fallen in love with Mr. Woodcock. Things go from bad to worse when Mr. Woodcock proposes to John’s mom.
John tries to break them up, but his efforts just dig a deeper and deeper hole in his newfound self-confidence. John’s behavior gets more and more erratic, driving a wedge between him and his beloved mother. Can John and Woodcock ever learn to get along for the sake of her happiness?
MR. WOODCOCK is one of those comedies where the hero’s calm façade is broken down through comic confrontations. In the process, the hero discovers valuable lessons about his own life and the human condition.
Thus, there are a couple kernels of truth in the often funny MR. WOODCOCK. These kernels, however, come with a price, including foul language, vulgarities and sexual references, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution. MR. WOODCOCK probably will attract some box office buzz, but it could be a bigger hit if most or all of the negative elements were cleaned up to make it more family friendly. A stronger redemptive ending also would help immensely.