The Ringer

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: 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?

The Ringer is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a full frame edition also included on this release. Fox is well regarded for their day & date titles and this one proves to be no exception, as the image looks clean and sharp throughout. The main element here is color, which looks vivid, bright, and often overwhelms the visuals, but this is how it is supposed to come across, so the hues are well preserved and look excellent in this treatment. I saw no quibbles to make with the black levels either, as shadow depth is dead on and no visible detail loss is evident, another superb new release visual presentation from Fox on this one.

Audio: How does it sound?

In the true tradition of comedies, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix found here remains basic in function, except for the pop rock musical soundtrack. The music opens up the speakers and adds some depth to the experience, even though the film has a low key, dialogue based approach to audio, as it should be here. The vocals sound terrific and never get overpowered, while the sound effects are well covered also, just a solid, but unmemorable mix. In other words, just another teen movie soundmix and that’s what it should have been. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

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. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, a statement from the Special Olympics, and a brief look behind the scenes.

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