The Ringer

The Ringer
Studio: 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: 2005-12-30
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Jed Rees, Bill Chott
Director: Barry Blaustein
Screenwriter: Ricky Blitt, Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow
WorkNameSort: Ringer, The

The Farrelly brothers didn't necessarily sign their own death warrant when they set out to a produce a comedy about an attempt to fix the Special Olympics. But when they decided to cast genuine mentally challenged individuals alongside "normal" actors, they broadcast what a marathon of discomfort the end result would be. Sappily "inspirational" enough to have earned the endorsement of the real Special Olympics yet basing its humor in slapstick sadism, the movie shows impostor Steve Barker – aka "Jeffy" (Johnny Knoxville) – learning lessons about true sportsmanship from a team of very special athletes – at whose daffy traits we're freely invited to yuk it up. The film's central, fatal flaw, though, is Knoxville's atrocious retardation schtick, which is absolutely indistinguishable from the persona he's presented in Jackass, The Dukes of Hazzard and just about everywhere else. A comedy can take aim at any target it likes, as long as it's adept and accurate; Knoxville's tepid twitching is neither. The few laughs come from co-star Jed Rees as Glen, a squinty-eyed fellow competitor whose idea of an icebreaker is inviting folks to guess how many fingers he possesses. (The correct answer, of course, is eight; the other two digits are thumbs.) Now there's a world-class retard for your behind.

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