The Foot Fist Way premiered at Sundance in 2006. I got my hands on a copy about a year ago, and wondered why it never got a big cross-country release. I knew it was a hit among big-time comedy folk (your Stillers, your Apatows, your Oswalts), and I started to figure that maybe they just wanted to keep it to themselves. But with a big push from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, Foot Fist has found its way into theaters. Shot independently over nineteen days for little money in North Carolina, the film is a character study about a character you'd never want to meet -- Fred Simmons.
Danny McBride plays Simmons, an unbalanced children's Tae Kwon Do instructor who goes completely off the rails when his wife (the very funny Mary Jane Bostic) cheats on him. Fred is obsessed with karate master and low-budget film star Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best), and tries to focus his energies on bringing his hero to the school. That's about it for a plot, much of the film consists of quasi-connected short scenes and moments that feel quite a bit like sketches. A genuinely hilarious scene early on involving an elderly woman, for example, is a self-contained jewel (I actually choked on soda watching it), and would be an internet sensation if this film had never existed.
The juxtaposition of a deranged man and young children is a comedy staple going back (at least) to W.C. Fields, but since this is an indie flick, things go darker than you might expect. Simmons is not a likable man, not at all really, and McBride's resistance to give him a big heart makes him feel a lot more authentic than a lot of the "heroes" in major studio comedies today. Sometimes a dick is just a dick.