Danny McBride brings home the bacon
Danny McBride is like the bacon on a cheeseburger. Without it, the burger is still good, but there’s just something even more delicious when you slap a couple pieces of bacon on top. Like the extra flavor from the bacon, McBride brings that extra level of funny to everything he touches.
I first took notice of McBride way back in Hot Rod, the critically panned comedy starring the guys from The Lonely Island about a guy with a moped who longs to be a stuntman. McBride played Rico, a crass member of Rod’s crew, and instantly captured my attention with his overly serious and incredibly hilarious delivery.
He was also one of the main reasons I went to see Tropic Thunder, the Ben Stiller/Jack Black/Robert Downey Jr. action comedy about a group of actors who find themselves in the midst of actual warfare. Though I wanted to see the film anyway, I was over the edge when I heard that McBride played a pyro crew guy opposite Nick Nolte. Again, I wasn’t surprised when McBride stole all his scenes, though I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t in more of the film.
McBride solidified his place as my favorite comedy cheeseburger garnish with his stellar turn in Pineapple Express. Like the cheeseburger, the film was excellent to begin with, but every scene with McBride as Red had me laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.
Naturally, I ran home ad added The Foot Fist Way to my Nexflix queue, anxiously awaiting the DVD’s release. Yesterday, I finally received it and popped it in the DVD player.
McBride playes Fred Simmons, a Tae Kwon Do instructor and self-professed “King of the Demo” who runs a little Tae Kwon Do school in his small town. With everything around him being small, Simmons feels like a big fish until he discovers his wife Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic) has cheated on him with her boss.
As his life starts to unravel, he starts getting drunk off his Tae Kwon Do authority and challenging his perceived inferiors. (In one of the funniest lines, he degrades a student saying “If you were in prison, you’d be raped because you exude feminine qualities.”) Along with students Julio (Spencer Moreno) and Henry (Carlos Lopez) and best friend Mike (director and co-writer Jody Hill chanelling Keanu Reeves) he seeks out his hero, martial arts celebrity Chuck “The Truck” Wallace, played by Ben Best.
After making a pilgramage to a martial arts convention, Simmons manages to convince Chuck “The Truck” to make an appearance at his class during the students’ final testing. Things don’t go according to plan when Chuck arrives at Simmons’ house, leaving him to find his own strength and power.
Shot in 2006 for less than the price of an SUV, The Foot Fist Way certainly looks like a low-budget film with basic titles and a grainy visual quality slightly above the original Clerks. The pacing and some of the ancillary performances could use a bit of polish as well, but it’s clear to see that there’s a diamond in the rough.
Just like with some of his larger budget films, McBride simply knows how to deliver a line to achieve maximum comedy. In one scene, he denigrates yoga saying, “Meditation is terrific and all, but I’ve never heard of it saving anyone from a gang rape type situation.” In another, he criticizes a student by telling him, “Your weakness is disgusting to me.”
Many have compared McBride’s performance to the so-serious-it’s-hilarous delivery of Will Ferrell. It may come as no surprise that Foot Fist is one of Ferrell’s favorite films and was released through Ferrell and Anchorman writer/director Adam McKay‘s company, Gary Sanchez Productions. Still others say that Fred Simmons is like a hybrid of a Ferrel character and unjustly arrogant boss David Brent from the original UK version of The Office.
Regardless of who might have inspired McBride’s performances, he is sure to inspire a few of his own and become everyone’s favorite comedy garnish in years to come.