The whole plot of this movie hinges on the fact that Joe Scheffer (Tim Allen) gets bitch-slapped in the parking lot at work right in front of his kid, Natalie (Hayden Panettiere), on "Take Your Daughter to Work Day."
This incident prompts Joe to challenge bitch-slapper Mark McKinney (Patric Warburton) to a fight three weeks from the original bitch-slapping. In the interim, of course, Joe will get in shape, learn some martial arts and kick Mark's ass. What Joe doesn't account for is that everybody hates Mark and suddenly Joe becomes Mr. Popular. Apparently, middling corporate jobs are a lot like 5th grade. Joe stands up for himself and he gets invited up to the executives' gym, befriends all the hotshots, and changes his hair style so he looks like a winner. If only Joe had realized that being a winner requires but a change in hairstyle, he could have saved a lot of time.
Aside from the fact that this might make a better story were it set in kindergarten, the second Mark put his hands on Joe, Joe could have taken him to court. Seriously, I was a jury foreman during a trial in which one guy touched another guy and since the first guy didn't like it, he pressed charges and it went to court. You know what? We convicted the toucher. That's what the law said -- you can't touch another person with the intent to annoy. I didn't write the law, I just enforced it.
But since he's got the mentality of somebody in grade school, Joe goes to martial arts master Chuck Scarett (James Belushi) for help. James Belushi? Somebody call down to the chimps in casting and tell them to lay off the Robitussin. Can you guess the only character in the film to have everything completely figured out? That's right, the daughter. She has an IQ of like 240. She's smarter than Joe's ex-wife, Callie (Kelly Lynch); she's smarter than Joe. SHE KNOWS ALL. Midway through the film, she beats Steven Hawking at Rummikub.
Joe falls for a co-worker, Julie Bowen (Meg Harper), who likes him for who he is and is put off when Joe transforms into Popular Guy. Then there's Mr. Mid-Level Manager, Jeremy (Greg Germann). What's this, like the fifth role in a row where he plays a bureaucratic dickhead (his role in "Ally McBeal")? Since it's Christmas, however, this turns into yet another movie where everybody learns to appreciate one another and not to fight and not to act like they're in elementary school.
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