The idea of a martial-arts instructor whose domestic problems bleed into his work is so rich with comic potential it seems remarkable no one thought of it before. In The Foot Fist Way, Danny McBride stars as Fred Simmons, an oafish tae kwon do teacher. After Simmons’ wife (Mary Jane Bostic) leaves him, his behavior becomes erratic. He weeps in class and informs a pupil that ”your parents would slit your throat just to get ahead.” Simmons also obsesses over the possibility of hanging out with his hero, Chuck ”The Truck” Wallace (Ben Best) — a quest whose success has consequences both disastrous and redemptive.
The Foot Fist Way is not short on broad physical humor. But Simmons is a brilliantly detailed grotesque capable of withstanding comparison to his most obvious inspiration, Ricky Gervais’ Office boss David Brent. The film also at least partly works as an actual sports movie, thanks in no small measure to the punchy direction of Jody Hill (who co-wrote with McBride and Best, and also plays Simmons’ creepy best friend).
The Foot Fist Way debuted at Sundance two years ago and soon became a favorite of comedy bigwigs like Will Ferrell, who helped secure distribution. McBride will be seen later this summer in the Judd Apatow-produced Pineapple Express and the Ben Stiller-directed Tropic Thunder. Both movies will be doing very well if they elicit bigger laughs. A-