3 January 2006 | TheMovieMark
Go ahead, laugh with a clear conscience
"Son, there are two types of people in this world - those who think quotes like 'I can count to potato' are funny, and those who don't." OK, so maybe those weren't the exact words of wisdom my grandfather once shared with me, but the meaning is the same. Some people just don't laugh at stupidity, and if you fall in this group then "The Ringer" probably isn't your wisest choice of investment this Christmas season.
That's not to say that "The Ringer" is nothing more than a stupid comedy. There are a handful of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, and surprisingly, there's a whole lot of sentiment. Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, but that's ultimately what drags it down.
Think about it. Johnny Knoxville rigs the Special Olympics in order to make some money. The Farrelly Brothers are producers. The screenplay is written by Ricky Blitt, one of the writers on "Family Guy." Should be knock-down, drag-out, envelope-pushing political incorrectness that dares to offend anybody who is brave enough to buy a ticket and watch it, right? Wrong. In fact, the movie goes out of its way to make sure the audience knows Johnny Knoxville is a good guy.
You see, he needs the money to help a guy have surgery who he couldn't bear to fire at work in the first place. And of course, he's reluctant to go along with his uncle's plan. And you know he's going to become best friends with all of the other Special Olympians. Knoxville spends so much of his time performing knightly actions that the movie essentially becomes a 90-minute infomercial for the real Special Olympics.
That is certainly something I don't want to knock because it does make the film likable. Many moviegoers will have their hearts warmed over the relationships Knoxville develops with the Special Olympians (even though the majority are portrayed by real actors with no real disabilities). Knoxville's soft heart leads to something that I thought was kind of weird - the movie is designed for you to actually root for him to win, despite the fact that he's a fraud.
The reason is reigning champion, Jimmy, is a jerk who you'll feel no sympathy for. Like my grandfather used to say, "Just because you're handicapped doesn't give you the right to be a jerk." He offered this nugget of wisdom once when a guy in a handicap parking spot flipped us off because we were walking too slowly behind his car.
So as an after school special this works well. But as a comedy? Well, it just wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be. Oh, I laughed, and I smiled, and I drooled over Katherine Heigl, but I never had to catch my breath or tend to a busted gut, nor did I ever miss dialogue because of overwhelming audience laughter.
So is it worth your hard-earned money? I honestly can't see a necessity to pay to see it on the big screen. Besides, it won't make a ton of money at the box office, so it'll be on DVD soon. Wait and make it a rental. It's not the comedy it should have been, but it has good intentions. And like granddad always said, "You can't always be the best at everything you do, but you can always be likable. It's not as easy for people to be hard on you when they see that your heart's in the right place."