Mr. Woodcock

Rated 2.0

A self-help author (Sean William Scott) with a bestselling book about overcoming your unhappy past goes home to visit his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon)—only to find that she’s dating the martinet phys. ed. teacher (Billy Bob Thornton) who made his life miserable in junior high school. Scott and Thornton work surprisingly well together, so well that we wish their characters were more sympathetic, the situation less predictable, the script (by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert) less sophomoric, and Craig Gillespie’s direction less crass and boorish (it appears that Scott’s character may not be the only one who failed to get beyond eighth grade). Sarandon’s character is the most likeable of the three, while most of the movies few laughs go to Amy Poehler, as Scott’s hard-bitten literary press agent.