Movie Mars

The Ringer DVD Cover Art

The Ringer DVD

Peter and Bobby Farrelly have always expressed an especially warm but unsentimental attitude in their films toward those with disabilities, most notably in THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and SHALLOW HAL. THE RINGER, which they produced (but neither wrote nor directed), takes this trait to feverish new heights. JACKASS-cum-leading man stars Johnny Knoxville as office schmo Steve Barker, whose request for more responsibility at his job indirectly results in the severing of four fingers from the hand of Stavi, the mild-mannered office janitor. When Steve requests financial help from his morally-questionable gambling addict Uncle Gary (Brian Cox), Stevie finds himself posing as "Jeffy" an athlete in the Special Olympics whose victory against track champion Jimmy (Leonard Flowers) could spell an end to Uncle Gary's debts and the reattaching of Stavi's fingers.

Though a basic description of its premise would make most viewers cry foul, THE RINGER skirts the obvious charge of exploitation by making the mentally challenged characters the only ones to realize that Steve is only acting handicapped. Steve's fellow Olympians are cast with a combination of veteran character actors and real-life former Special Olympians (most notably Edward Barbanell, John Taylor, and Leonard Flowers) who, while lending the film authenticity, also spark with comic timing and the true joy of being on camera. Knoxville once again makes an affable hero, and Ricky Blitt's screenplay, while crass by nature, keeps true vulgarity at bay in favor of a good nature that makes simplicity an asset.

$7.25

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