Jody Hill

2008
The Foot Fist Way 64
[ Recalling both David Mamet’s recent “Redbelt” and Ricky Gervais’ “The Office”, this sorta-mockumentary is a bit uneven and unpolished, but still works thanks to star Danny McBride and the terrific comic creation that is Fred Simmons. This Tae Kwon Fo instructor is such an asshole! Here’s a guy who barely flinches when little kids or old ladies get knocked out and who carelessly says the most abusive things… Here’s a comedy that seems fuelled purely by frustration and anger, which is quite ironic when the lead character keeps talking about courtesy, self-control and indomitable spirit! ]

2009
Eastbound & Down (Season One) 75
[ Danny McBride, man, Danny fucking McBride. This HBO series is very “Foot Fist Way”, what with Danny once again playing an arrogant, pathetic, inappropriate and foul-mouthed character, in this case a former professional ballplayer who now teaches middle-school phys ed. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produce the show and David Gordon Green directed three episodes, but really that barely has anything to do with me enjoying the show, as the direction is pretty straightforward. It’s all about the McBride, whom I think I could watch strut around and berate people forever. The supporting cast is also awesome, from sidekick Steve Little to dweeby principal Andrew Daly to all the hilariously slutty female characters (Katy Mixon, Sylvia Jefferies). And just like in “The Office”, an obvious influence on this series, every episode seems to make the protagonist more ridiculous and more pathetic, but also curiously more endearing. That’s another thing the McBride’s got going for him: as shameless and over the top as his portrayal of Kenny Powers can be, it’s also surprisingly grounded and heartfelt. Of course, it’s too bad that this first season is so short (6 half hours), but at the same time, I respect co-creators Jody Hill, Ben Best and Danny McBride’s decision to follow the example of “The Office” and keep the audience wanting more with these hit-and-run seasons, instead of needlessly stretching things out. We’ll miss you, Kenny Powers. Until next time… ]

2009
Observe and Report 71
[ review ]

2010
Eastbound & Down (Season Dos) 83
[ When we catch up with Kenny Powers again, he’s down in the “savage land” of Mexico, hanging out with shady characters (including badass midget Deep Roy), taking part in cockfights, fucking prostitutes, doing drugs, riding his moped… and eventually playing baseball again with the Charros. As gloriously played by Danny McBride, Powers might have traded the mullet for cornrows (for a while anyway), but he’s still such a great character, so dumb, mean, vulgar, offensive and ridiculous! And as in the first season, as caricatural as the character can be, he’s also full of unexpected pathos. Kenny’s new love interest (Ana de la Reguera), who’s got a great ass instead of big ole titties like his former flame, Michael Peña as the owner of the Charros, who’s like the villain in a 1980s action movie, and Don Johnson as the mysterious Eduardo Sanchez are a lot of fun, and Season Dos also sees the return of dweeby sidekick/groupie Steve Little, who’s desperate to join Powers’ “Hispanic adventure”. Amongst other things, Jody Hill (and David Gordon Green, who directed a couple of episodes again) seems to be riffing on Westerns in Season Dos, down to including cuts from Ennio Morricone on the soundtrack, and he’s also going all out with the sports flick spoof (he’s described it as “a cross between the films Amores perros and The Bad News Bears”). Hopefully, we’ll get a third season soon enough… ]

2012
Eastbound & Down (Season Three) 65
[ Kenny Powers, still the consumate asshole, is now playing baseball in Myrtle Beach, but that soon isn’t the main thing on his mind. How could it be when he finds himself “stuck” with his baby son after former flame April disappears on him, which leads to many scenes in which Kenny demonstrates his so-called “parenting skills”. Back on the baseball field, as he’s trying to impress a Major League scout (Matthew McConaughey), he gets competition on the pitching mound from a new Russian player. There are also multiple references to “Top Gun”, as Kenny and new best friend Shane (Jason Sudeikis) argue about who of the two is Tom Cruise and who’s Goose. And then there’s the return of Don Johnson as old man Powers as well as the introduction of Lily Tomlin as his ex-wife and Kenny’s mother, in what is unfortunately one of the lesser episodes of the series. In fact, this third season as a whole isn’t that great, in my opinion. Season One was our introduction to Kenny Powers, Season Dos shook things up by taking the action to Mexico and now, Season Three… There’s the whole baby thing, I guess, but they kind of beat that thread into the ground. How many scenes of ridiculously incompetent parenting can we get? The season finale is also oddly contrived. Maybe Season Four is better? To be continued… ]

Kenny Powers Toby