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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look31.25%
Average: 21.88%
Pretty Bad: 21.88%
Total Crap: 12.5%

3 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Ringer, The
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by brianorndorf

"Not dangerous enough"
3 stars

From the outside, “The Ringer” might not appear ripe for comedy with its plot featuring the rigging of the Special Olympics. And it seems the filmmakers agree, since they are very careful not to offend any potential audience member. Once the film gets going there are laughs to be had, but the film plays it too safe, promising political correctness, but never delivering.

After a lawn mowing accident leaves his friend without fingers, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) looks to his gambling-addict uncle Gary (Brian Cox) for help to pay for the operation to fix his hand. Gary’s idea is to rig the Special Olympics, pushing Steven into signing up for competition, thus giving him an advantage over the other athletes. Steve is wary, but agrees, calling himself “Jeffy,” and plunges himself headfirst into the community of mentally challenged athletes and the games. However, when he takes a liking to one of the supervisors (Katherine Heigl, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Steve starts to second-guess his decision, and is forced to choose between his financial commitments and betraying his newfound friends.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly have done a good amount of work placing mentally challenged actors in their films, often to lend the movies a note of authenticity and spontaneity. While their films are often wily and purposefully distasteful, the brothers have always been respectful to their unique supporting characters, and nothing tests that resolve more than “The Ringer.” While only acting as producers here, the Farrelly stamp is all over this production.

Director Barry Blaustein (“Beyond the Mat”) and writer Ricky Blitt (“Family Guy”) have created a farce, but one that fences mightily with the potential for utter tastelessness. Thankfully, “Ringer” is not a mean-spirited production. In fact, it might be a little too kind, just to make sure nobody ends up burning down the multiplex in protest. Given a blessing by the Special Olympics, the film is light on its toes, but never digs deep enough, preferring obvious jokes and pratfalls over true satire and gut-busting situations. One gets the feeling that the filmmakers were sweating bullets just trying to make this picture work on a fundamental level.

Aptly cast in the lead role, Johnny Knoxville gives his best performance to date as Steve, which says more about this actor than I care to expand upon. Knoxville has the right ideas with his acting choices, allowing himself to be the center of the humiliation, instead of the bastard that dishes it out. Not surprisingly, most of the great gags are handled by the athletes, who are a convincing mixture of mentally challenged performers and familiar comedic ones. A large amount of praise must be given to actor Jed Rees as Glen, a more vocal member Steve’s entourage. As the muscular Burger King employee who loves hugs, Rees is hilarious trying to decipher Jimmy’s swindle, and even better when he tries to assist him. Actress Katherine Heigl deserves a participant ribbon for even showing up, but she manages to sneak a little kindness into the picture, and is appropriately cast as Jimmy’s object of desire.

After a lengthy set-up to find a way for Jimmy to believably want to go along with this scheme, “Ringer” finds the biggest laughs with the athletes and their varying personalities. Unfortunately, this is only a small portion of the film, with the rest given over to telling the labored story in exceedingly average ways.

The filmmakers deserve credit for wading into these difficult waters looking for jokes; however, “The Ringer” plays it too safe, and by being careful with their footsteps, they’ve managed to walk around some potentially inspired material.

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originally posted: 12/23/05 14:41:58
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User Comments

5/17/09 art LAME! 1 stars
5/17/07 ES I'd watch it again 4 stars
3/01/07 PJ Dougherty My uncle helped produce this film and Farrely Brothers u Rule good luck peter and bobby 5 stars
1/27/07 kathy pilczuk this movie is a great one. 5 stars
10/05/06 kathy pilczuk great one 5 stars
8/14/06 Sharon it was written before that south park and you guys are dumb this movie ROCKS!! 5 stars
7/27/06 Indrid Cold Manages to not be too offensive, but that's about all it has going for it. 2 stars
7/13/06 Anthony Feor It actually has good taste and meaning 4 stars
4/15/06 Steve Newman This is complete bollox - apr 06 1 stars
2/25/06 Priscilla Postlethwaite So what IS the grandmother snd grandson at the beach joke? 4 stars
1/13/06 Perry Mason Subtract Johnny Knoxville and you'd have a decent movie. 3 stars
1/08/06 MMason it was written BEFORE south park and is more good fare from the brothers 4 stars
1/02/06 Anus Blatant rip-off of Southpark 1 stars
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  23-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-May-2006



Directed by
  Barry Blaustein

Written by
  Ricky Blitt

  Johnny Knoxville
  Brian Cox
  Katherine Heigl
  Zen Gesner
  John Taylor
  Jed Rees

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