The Ringer (Blu-ray)

June 16, 2014 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) is a loser. He had dreams of Hollywood, but never chased them and now, he is stuck in a dead end position. When he asks his boss for a promotion, he is given one, but only long enough to fire his friend Stavi (Luis Avalos). He refuses to fire him and instead, gives him a job cutting his lawn, complete with a high salary and medical benefits. Of course, Barker can’t afford medical coverage, so when Stavi loses a few fingers in a mower accident, he is put to the test. His only option seems to be an outlandish plot his Uncle Gary (Bryan Cox) suggests. Barker will use his acting skills to pose as a “special” person and enter the Special Olympics, to defeat the six time champion Jimmy. If he can win, his uncle will win a bet and be able to cover his debts, plus Stavi’s fingers will be returned. While he questions the morality involved, he also has no other choice, so he enters the games as a “special” guy named Jeffy. He quickly discovers that his fellow athletes are better than he thought, but he manages to qualify for the finals. But in the process, a group of “special” athletes figures out his ruse and calls his bluff. They don’t turn him however, as they want him to beat Jimmy, as they’re tired of his winning ways and how he treats others. But even with help from his new friends, can he win the gold and if so, will his secret ever be revealed?

This movie stars former Jackass troupe leader Johnny Knoxville and has Bobby & Peter Farrelly behind the scenes, so I had high hopes this would be quite hilarious, though offensive. But I should have learned my lesson from the spate of recent films with the Farrelly brothers on deck, as The Ringer has no comedic bite. No, this is a watered down version of what could have been, thanks to a general feeling of not wanting to offend, despite a concept that is ripe for outlandish situations. I can understand putting in some emotion, but this turns into thick melodrama, as the filmmakers try to warm hearts at the expense of entertainment. In addition, the story tries to be too complex, with numerous loose ends that have to be taken care of, which makes the final run seem rushed and poorly executed. Johnny Knoxville is passable here as the total loser, though his “special” routine rarely comes off as even barely believable. The true stars here are the performers, some who have afflictions and some who don’t, who play the friends of Knoxville. They are the lone bright spot here, as they are fun to watch and are allowed to go outside the usual boundaries for “special” characters. In the end, The Ringer falls short thanks to the filmmakers, who chose to play it safe. The end result has minimal entertainment value and in truth, probably doesn’t even rate as a good rental.

Video: How does it look?

Presented in 2.35:1 AVC HD image, The Ringer actually surprised me by looking simply amazing. Colors are rich, vibrant and bold. Detail is top notch as well showcasing fine nuances in many of the scenes. The depth of the picture nearly gives it a 3D quality that’s sure to impress. Fox doesn’t usually give that much special treatment to their catalog titles, but I have to say that after watching The Ringer on Blu-ray, it’s a good-looking catalog title, for sure.

Audio: How does it sound?

While not on par with the video quality, The Ringer’s DTS HD Master Audio mix is consistent with that of a comedy. The Farrelley Brothers are known for their soundtracks and the music opens up the speakers and adds some depth to the experience. The vocals sound terrific and never get overpowered, while the sound effects are well covered also, just a solid, but unmemorable mix. Surrounds offer a bit of enhancement during some key scenes, but it’s a front-heavy mix that’s still sure to please.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sporting (sorry, couldn’t resist) the same supplements as the previous standard DVD, Fox has offered nothing new on the supplemental front.

  • Audio Commentary – The audio commentary track here is loaded, with director Barry Blaustein as well as several members of the cast and crew. This is not a technical track, just a group of folks talking about the experience and that works well in this case. I don’t think this is one you’ll want to listen to more than once, but if you somehow liked the flick, you will want to give this a spin.
  • Deleted Scenes – 16 in all, cut for obvious pacing issues.
  • Let the Games Begin: A Look at The Ringer – A brief featurette that tells us what every other featurette does, some interviews with the Farrelley’s as well as some selected cast and crew are present. Nothing earth-shattering here.
  • Theatrical Trailer

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