The Ringer Reviews
This movie will give you the impression that it's simply a one joke gag with bad taste but will leave you feeling a greater love and appreciation for the Special Olympics and its athletes. It shows how people with mental disabilities are often thought of as having lower mental capabilities than they actually do. This is a movie that shows how these expectations that we have are just not true, but that these special athletes are much more capable mentally and physically than we typically think.
The opening scene introduces the motivation behind the main character Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) when he is trying to help a friend out but ends up needing to come up with 28,000 dollars to save his fingers. Trying to find ways to save Stavi's fingers, he calls his no- good uncle Gary (Brian Cox) to get back some money that he owes him, but Gary has something better in mind. He convinces Steve to fix the Special Olympics. After all he's an aspiring actor and was a track star in high school. Surely, he could pull off the job.
At this point in the movie there are a lot of mixed feelings because it almost seems like the rest of the movie is going to be making joke of a sensitive subject. This turns out not to be the case. The movie quickly begins to focus on those that are in the Special Olympics rather than Steve and the fake character that he is playing to trick the officials (Jeffy). The athletes soon learn that he is a fraud after recognizing that he talked like a "normal" person. At this point in the movie it becomes apparent the real message behind this complex comedy. It shows the real level of intelligence that people with mental disabilities have which seems to be the central message of the movie. After this discovery, they still want Steve to stay to beat Jimmy (Leonard Flowers) who has dominated the Special Olympics for the past six years. At this point Steve begins to grow close to his fellow athletes which sets the stage for the rest of the movie. His new friends help train him to beat Jimmy all the while they have fun in the process. As the rest of the story progresses it shows to be a heart warming comedy with a special message.
The Ringer is a comedy movie about a guy who wants to rig the Special Olympics to pay for his gardeners needed surgery, yes it is pretty crazy. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Katherine Heigl and a huge cast behind them, this movie is positively brimming with life, and the occasional laugh from them. You may think a movie about a man pretending to have learning difficulties is offensive and that casting people with similar conditions is too, but the true warm feel of this movie makes them not a thing to laugh at, they are good actors and can make some good jokes of their own.
The story is pretty basic there's no doubt but it is still unique and with the kind of comedy that can at times be silly, mixed with genuine emotion too, this is one movie that can have you laughing on moments and stirring your heart the next. That said this film is far from perfect, some jokes aren't too great and with a film that as said is kind of silly, you get some hit and miss moments but all in all it is OK for me.
Knoxville plays Steve(or Jeffy as he becomes known when pretending), and he acts it out well enough, not great all the way through but a good choice nevertheless. Katherine Heigl you may feel wastes her talent with a comedy like this but it's far from it, she is probably the most serious character but for me she is finest when being kind, it makes Heigl come off very well as an actor. The film uses a lot of people with learning disabilities, and they are great and as I said, they bring warmth to this and they are not to laugh at, you laugh with them.
Director Barry Blaustein I felt does this very well, he works with the comedy duo the Farrelly Brothers who produced this and together they just seem to make this work, whether it's the story or the humour I'll never know. This movies writing isn't exactly spot on, Blaustein seems to direct the bad parts of the script well enough not to be a disaster but then again the script isn't all bad, just not great.
Overall this movie really isn't for everybody, I expect mixed reviews and also mixed reactions as this could stir up an argument or two. In the end it is a sweet movie I felt and one that although I wouldn't be bursting to see again, is still worth another watch and for me that is all that counts. Oh and one more thing to mention, if you like the Farrelly brothers style of comedy seen in such films as "There's Something about Mary" and "Dumb and Dumber" among many others, then you should love this as this is just like the brand of comedy they represent.