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Fox Home Entertainment presents
The Ringer (2005)

"I can count to potato."
- Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: May 15, 2006

Stars: Johnny Knoxville
Other Stars: Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Luis Avalos
Director: Barry W. Blaustein

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (crude and sexual humor, language, and some drug references)
Run Time: 01h:34m:12s
Release Date: May 16, 2006
UPC: 024543235231
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Comedian, actor, gonzo daredevil. Johnny Knoxville can be considered all of those things, but it's difficult to pin a single description on the man. After spearheading the Jackass phenomenon, Knoxville branched out into mainstream Hollywood films.

His latest vehicle is The Ringer, a 2005 film that, due to its subject matter (guy fakes a disability in order to win the Special Olympics), never really had a chance at a wide audience. Still, the film does have its heart in the right place, never resorting to cheap exploitation for the purpose of a few laughs. Therein lies the fine line, as some might argue that exploiting the subject is the only way for a comedy about the mentally challenged to be funny at all.

Steve Barker (Knoxville) is stuck in a dead-end job, when he goes to his boss requesting more responsibility. Wasting no time, his boss tells Steve to fire long-time janitor, Stavi (Luis Avalos). When Steve can't bring himself to let the poor man go, he hires him to take care of his own lawn, resulting in a mower accident and the loss of Stavi's fingers. Unable to pay for his operation, Steve devises a plan to impersonate a mentally challenged man and enter the Special Olympics. Once there, Steve takes the name Jeffy Dahmor, and is instantly attracted to a volunteer, Lynn Sheridan (Katherine Heigl). With the games underway, Steve struggles between trying to win the overall gold medal and telling the truth, regardless of the consequences.

There's really only a handful of fun moments to be had here, and writer Ricky Blitt's script isn't much more than a series of one-shot set pieces that don't work as a 90-minute film. Director Barry W. Blaustein had the dubious job of trying to bring it all together, and he struggles mightily. There are so many plot inconsistencies that the plot holes easily outnumber the laughs. This isn't the type of comedy that requires a thought-provoking story to be effective, but the number of questions that pop up throughout provide a major distraction. For instance, why couldn't Steve work something out with the hospital administration to have Stavi's fingers reattached for either less money or for free. One only has to look at about a quarter of the ER episodes for examples of such charity cases. The depiction of the Special Olympics raise a whole new batch of questions, and authenticity obviously wasn't priority number one.

Despite the film's failings, Knoxville does a serviceable job in the title role, continuing to show glimpses of a comedic actor just itching for a breakout role worthy of his talent. He's just as believable when he's posing as Jeffy as he is in his "real life" alter-ego, Steve, but I'm not sure if that's a compliment. Still, Knoxville avoids overacting in a role that practically begs for such a misstep. The Ringer isn't quite as annoying as much of the junk that makes it to theaters these days, and Knoxville is one of the few reasons it isn't difficult to sit through.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The disc features both pan & scan and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentations. The images on both are sharp and finely detailed, while the color scheme is bright and vivid. Shadow and contrast levels are just fine, with hardly any instances of grain or dirt.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also impressive, making avid use of the surrounds. A nice bass presence adds to its effectiveness, while ambient sounds and other elements benefit from the wide dynamic range. There aren't any dialogue problems either.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Thank You For Smoking
16 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Barry W. Blaustein, screenwriter Ricky Blitt, producer Peter Farrelly, and actors Johnny Knoxville, Edward Barbanell, and John Taylor.
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. A Message from Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman
Extras Review: The surprisingly large collection of extra features begins with an audio commentary track with director Barry W. Blaustein, screenwriter Ricky Blitt, producer Peter Farrelly, and actors Johnny Knoxville, Edward Barbanell, and John Taylor. This large group has a ton of fun with this session, tearing into Knoxville and pretty much anything else they can think of with random, crazy comments. There isn't much order to these audio proceedings, but that's quite a bit of the track's charm.

There is a pair of featurettes, with Let the Games Begin: A Look at The Ringer running just over seven minutes, and serving standard EPK purposes, complete with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage. Special Olympics Featurette is three minutes long, and takes a brief look at the strong-willed individuals who take part in this amazing sporting event. There's also a preview of Thank You For Smoking and a two-minute message from Tim Shriver, the Chairman of the Special Olympics, where he explains why these games are so important.

16 deleted scenes are available, running a total of 19 minutes. Most of these wouldn't have added much to the feature, but they do show us quite a few subplots and are interesting enough to go through.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

While not terrible, The Ringer is a difficult film to like. It lacks laughs, but Johnny Knoxville's performance makes the DVD worth a rental.


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