Danny McBride as Fred Simmons in "The Foot Fist Way."
THE FOOT FIST WAY — ** — Danny McBride, Mary Jane Bostic, Ben Best; rated R (profanity, violence, vulgarity, brief sex, nude photos, brief drugs, slurs)

As a supporting performer, Danny McBride was arguably the best thing about last year's slacker comedy "Hot Rod." There are even a few people who would argue that he was the only good thing about that movie.

But there were still some questions about whether McBride's cocky but comic screen presence would be as amusing when he's the main attraction in a film. "The Foot Fist Way" suggests that McBride is at his best when he's kept in the background and when his appearances are fairly brief.

And speaking of brevity, this comedy clocks in around 90 minutes. Yet somehow it still feels too long and overly padded — as if it were a sketch-comedy show bit that was stretched out to feature length.

McBride co-wrote the screenplay and stars as Fred Simmons, a tae kwon do instructor who preaches respect, self-control and discipline to his martial-arts students.

Ironically, Fred doesn't practice what he preaches in his personal life. It seems his wife, Suzie (Mary Jane Bostic), has been cheating on him. So it's no wonder he's now in a pretty self-destructive spiral.

Most recently, Fred came on to a pretty new student, Denise (Collette Wolfe), and pummeled another, much-younger pupil (Nicholas Stanley). And he's been battling bouts of depression.

In fact, the only that lifts his spirits is when Fred gets to meet his idol, film star and fellow martial artist Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (Ben Best, another of the credited screenwriters).

Director Jody Hill's biggest and best contribution is his silly supporting turn as another martial artist. The film's tone is all over the place, and there are some times where it takes itself much too seriously.

To be honest, this would have been better off had it been kept to a short film for Adam McKay and Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die" Web site (those two men helped this low-budget indie get theatrical distribution).

"The Foot Fist Way" is rated R for strong sexual language (profanity, vulgar slang and other frank sexual talk), strong martial-arts violence (brawling and practice), some crude digestive humor, brief simulated sex and other sexual contact, glimpses of nude photocopies, scenes featuring brief drug content (cocaine use, overheard) and underage drinking, and derogatory slurs. Running time: 85 minutes.

E-mail: [email protected]