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Discussion Guide: Kicking & Screaming


Movie Synopsis

Will Ferrell stars as a suburban dad who transforms into a maniac when he becomes the coach of his son's unruly soccer team and is pitted against his own domineering dad (Robert Duvall).

Kicking and Screaming Movie Cover


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Discussion Questions

  1. When Coach Ditka gives Phil coffee, he goes from caring dad to an abusive and overly intense coach. Is this good or bad? Why?
  2. Phil’s father, Buck, was overly intense when Phil was growing up. How did that impact Phil’s behavior throughout the film?
  3. Is Phil’s behavior with parents acceptable? Why or why not?
  4. Many would consider this film ‘satire’ on the overly intense win-at-all-cost culture in youth sports. What is your opinion? Is this comedy or reality?
  5. At the end of the movie, when Phil realizes the error of his ways (being overly intense) is it too late to alter his behavior?
  6. When Phil stops being intense and reverts to caring behavior, is it all coincidence that his team is even more successful and goes on to win the game?
  7. At the end of the final game, Phil refuses to accept his ‘prize’ from Buck. Is this because he realized that there is more to life than winning?

What Parents Need To Know

Parents need to know that Kicking & Screaming includes repeated scenes of physical violence against children. Though this is staged as humor -- specifically, a function of the immaturity and insecurity of perpetrators Phil (Will Ferrell) and his father Buck (Robert Duvall) -- it's also annoying and even startling (Phil kicks his own 10-year-old son, Buck pushes another child into a pool). The soccer game scenes are mostly fun, but do include a few rough action sequences. A couple of characters are slapped, punched, and kneed in the groin, adults smoke and drink (Phil becomes addicted to coffee and very jittery). In one scene, the kids' team emerges from a van covered in blood (following an afternoon chopping meat in a butcher's shop), and so intimidate their opponents into forfeiting the game. Phil instructs his team members to bay at the moon like dogs. One child on the team has lesbian parents, who make Phil nervous, though he does his best to be "correct."

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Our partner, Positive Coaching Alliance, provides a collection of movie discussion guides, which aim to help you make the most out of movie viewing with your team or child. Movies provide many of "teachable moments" parents can share with their young athletes helping them be successful, contributing members of society.

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