Never was the Oedipal more complex, and director Craig Gillespie could have taken Thornton and run to daylight with this material. Billy Wilder would have. Even Ben Stiller could have mined the mean-spiritedness in a plot like this, but Gillespie wastes Thornton’s gift for cinematic hatefulness.
Thornton gets some laughs out of Woodcock’s passive-aggressive abuse of the boys in his classes, but outside of the gym, the chuckles are few and far between. Just when you’re gearing up for a guffaw, the movie turns maudlin and you’ll want to yell at the director, “Dammit, Gillespie, drop and give me 10!” PG-13