The Ringer (2005) starring Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Jed Rees, Bill Chott directed by Barry W. Blaustein Movie Review

The Ringer (2005)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Johnny Knoxville in The Ringer (2005)

Not What it Seems

Nervous office worker Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) was meant to fire the office janitor but feeling bad about putting him out of a job arranged for him to mow the lawns at the complex where he lives. Unfortunately the janitor loses some fingers in a lawnmower accident and Steve feels like he has to pay for the surgery but can't afford it. Steve's uncle Gary (Brian Cox) can't help either as he is in some serious debt but that is when the plan is formed, have Steve enter the Special Olympics and win so they can earn big money on a bet. Of course good guy Steve feels bad for doing this and feels even worse when he starts to fall for Lynn Sheridan (Katherine Heigl) a beautiful volunteer.

On paper "The Ringer" sounds wrong, a comedy featuring Johnny Knoxville masquerading as a handicapped athlete sounds like an offensive disaster from start to finish. Surprisingly it isn't and rather than being one of those movies which mocks those who have a handicap it shows that they are no different to anyone. It actually does a very good job when it comes to showing that handicap people are no different as they share jokes, compassion and sympathy, in fact it does a really good job of opening your eyes to the truth.

Brian Cox in The Ringer (2005)

But whilst this side of "The Ringer" impresses it is a movie not without issues and for me one of those problems is Johnny Knoxville. Now Knoxville is very good through out the movie but it turns into a series of slapstick gags and once you've seen Knoxville hurt himself once you don't need to see him hurt himself again. It is also because of Knoxville and that the Farrelly brothers are producers that before you watch "The Ringer" you fear the worst, you fear insulting, crude humour. It is unfortunate because as I said Knoxville plays his part well but ends up suffering because of what he did before this movie and those who are also involved in the movie.

The other trouble with "The Ringer" is that it avoids developing the story and subplot in favour of cheap laughs. The potential for depth is astonishing from what Steve learns about his new handicapped friends to the whole romantic subplot but it is never explored which is a shame.

What this all boils down to is that "The Ringer" was not the crass movie I had expected and because it isn't as crass as you expect you can be impressed. But it does still suffer with issues such as focussing too heavily on the slapstick of Johnny Knoxville hurting himself time and again.