The Ringer

Release Date: December 23, 2005
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Movie of the Day for Wednesday, June 23, 2004
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Nobody told me this was so uncomfortable.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
67/166 David Mumpower Much sweeter and a bit funnier than rumored. When it hits the DVD market, it definitely warrants a look. Makes a smart decision in not keeping the main character's situation a secret throughout.

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Never one to eschew political incorrectness, Jackass Johnny Knoxville stars in this Farrelly Brothers production that takes on-wait for it-the Special Olympics.

Now before you get too offended or angry, it's important to note that the creators of The Ringer actually have received approval from the Special Olympics to use their name and potentially even film at their events, using their athletes. The reason? The movie doesn't mock the mentally handicapped nearly so much as it mocks the imposter who tries to compete among them.

That imposter is Knoxville himself, who plays Steve Barker, a guy who is desperate for cash. Not only does he have a friend in need of help, but Steve's unctuous uncle (Brian Cox) also has some gambling debts. In an attempt to gain some quick money, our "hero" attempts to rig the Special Olympics by posing as a person with mental disabilities. To his dismay, not only is he unable to defeat his competitors, who are superior athletes by far, but he also comes to realize that they have a lot more common sense than he does, too.

As it happens, a number of the Special Olympians don't particularly like reigning champ Jimmy, viewing him as snobbish and off-putting. Despite the fact that they instantly spot Steve for the fraud he is, they still team up to help the imposter become both a better athlete and a better man.

This subject matter is indeed rather delicate when approached with a humorous bent. There are bound to be protests regardless of whether it's handled in a "Special Olympics approved" slant. That extra publicity probably won't hurt, though. Knoxville's popularity among the youth-targeted audience will help to give The Ringer a higher profile than some other Fox Searchlight comedies such as the Broken Lizard films. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

March 26, 2004
Uh oh. The boys of South Park beat Johnny Knoxville to the punch by more than six months. Despite the fact that this film completed production months before the "Cartman tries to win the Special Olympics but fails" episode aired, it may nonetheless be perceived as unoriginal and the second to tackle such a taboo topic with such irreverence. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Ringer
Main Cast Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl
Supporting Cast Zen Gesner, Jed Rees, John Taylor
Director Barry Blaustein
Screenwriter Ricky Blitt
Distributor Fox Searchlight
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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