With BAD SANTA, Billy Bob Thornton proved he was willing to go all the way--no holds barred--in portraying unsympathetic, foulmouthed jerks. Here he brings that same skill to bear as the title character, a sadistic junior high school gym teacher who is every uncoordinated or overweight student's worst nightmare. Best-selling author of self-help books, Farley (Sean William Scott) thinks the tortures he's suffered at the hands of Woodcock are just the stuff of traumatic childhood memory (such as being told, 'You are a disgrace to fat, gelatinous kids the world over'), until he goes home to Nebraska to pick up an award and learns his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) is in love with the man who made him miserable all those years ago. Farley recruits his unkempt buddy (Ethan Suplee) in a series of backfiring schemes to wreak some belated vengeance and expose Woodcock before the nuptials are sealed.
There's plenty of nasty repartee between Scott and Thornton and some funny-disturbing bits from side characters, like Farley's ferocious publicist (Amy Poehler) and Bill Macy as Woodcock's even more sadistic father. Sarandon brings a lot of touching innocence to the table as a sheltered widow daring to feel love again, and Scott does some nice squirming and pratfalls. But of course it's Thornton's movie all the way--he grabs the ball and never lets it go, unless of course it's to hurl it at some poor kid's head.