I'm in shock- The Ringer is great!

A movie starring Johnny Knoxville as a guy rigging the Special Olympics? It could have gone either way, really. When I saw the trailer I knew it had to be the best movie ever or the worst, but was betting on the latter. Then when I learned it was actually endorsed by the Special Olympics, I was sure it would be a wimpy, unfunny feel good flick.
I was wrong. It is freaking hilarious, and not in that “Oh, let’s be nice and laugh at that lame joke because a mentally challenged person said it,” either. I was laughing out loud the whole way through (well, not for the first 20 minutes or so, I’ll admit. But that’s because it’s just Knoxville. Actually, the parts with him and the janitor are more sappy and annoying than the parts between him and his teammates).
That being said, I highly recommend this movie for the holidays. It really is a feel good flick everyone can enjoy, even kids (though there’s a bit of swearing). I wouldn’t read too many reviews, either (except this one, natch). Just go in with zero preconceptions, put up with the first 20 minutes, and you should enjoy yourself.

(Also, if anyone could tell me the name of the music group that plays at the dance, it would be much appreciated)

I was debating whether to go, and I think you’ve helped me decide. The previews seem okay. Heck, maybe Johnny is outacted by some of the special actors.

My wife hated Jackass…

But she saw Knoxville on Jimmy Kimmel one night and got all wet.

Then she fell asleep during The Dukes of Hazzard, but I enjoyed it.

Nowadays, I actually respect “Johnny Knoxville” as an actor, and have high hopes for The Ringer.

I still think it’s rather sad when the plot of your whole movie is drawn whole hog from a South Park episode.

Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The Ringer has been in development since 2000, though it’s a bit of a he said/they said affair. (But come one, now-- is it really that hard to believe two separate groups would come up with the premise? Even I’ve thought about it before)

I saw it at a preview screening last night. It’s a total piece of garbage. Johnny Knoxville has no charisma whatsoever. He can’t even play retarded believably. The only funny thing he can do is get hurt, and that was only funny on Jackass because you knew he was actually doing painful, stupid things, not acting. On the big screen, it come across like somebody doing a bad Jerry Lewis impersonation. The whole thing is just an excuse for product placement. There’s even product placement in the dialog!

They try to cloak it with some kind of empowerment thing (there’s a band of disabled kids who does “Respect” at the end, for example) but really, it’s just about laughing at the retards. I can’t believe the Special Olympics endorsed it. It’s like the NAACP endorsing a minstral show.

FWIW, the creator of “Ringers” avers that South Park ripped HIM off, while the creators of South Park say that it was a case of two different groups of people coming up with the same idea. Either one is quite possible.

While I agree Knoxville was the weakest part of the film, I’ve got the feeling that those who find the movie offensive (and there are plenty of them-- though most have yet to see it) are probably revealing more about themselves than the actual film. Okay, it’s lowbrow comedy, but the jokes aren’t at the expense of the mentally challenged. When you laugh at them, it’s not because they are retarded, it’s because they said or did something funny, as with any other actor in any other movie. I’d rather this than watching Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi embarrass themselves, or the usual “Magical retarded person with a heart of gold” crap Hollywood likes to pull.

I think the second one is a little more likely because the South Park episode was a vehicle for them to point fingers at Sosa and the other steriod abusing ballplayers, and it was perfectly within Cartman’s character to try something that sleazy

Yeah, well I did see the film, and I’m a filmmaker and a movie critic. And I love, and make, lowbrow comedy, and I’ll tell you that the movie isn’t funny. The intended jokes coming out of the mouths of the retarded people are supposed to be funny in the same way that little kids in sitcoms telling an adult to “grow up” is supposed to be funny. It’s all about saying “sophisticated” or “hip” catchphrases in a funny voice–only in this instance, it’s the voice of someone who has a poorly developed speech center. Sometimes one of the members of the clique of developmentally disabled athletes Knoxville falls in with does something stupid or fails to make an obvious logical connection or misunderstands a word and we’re supposed to laugh at that because hey, they’re retarded, of course they’re stupid. The whole point of the “empowerment” stuff is to make the audience feel OK about laughing at retarded people. “They’re stupid! They talk funny! But hey, it’s OK because Johnny Knoxville feels really bad in the end.”

If you really wanted to make a positive, they’re-just-people-like-us statement, Lynn would have ended up romantically involved not with Knoxville’s character, who was pretending to be retarded, but with one of the other athletes who actually WAS retarded. But that whole aspect is played for the ick factor and the disabled people are only allowed to be attracted to other disabled people. The film clearly sees them second-class citizens, and treating them like the fraternity of lovable outcasts from Revenge of the Nerds (who, by the way, are allowed to hook up with the non-nerd women) is just a band aid.

I guess I’m coming off like some PC scold here, but really, it’s not like that. I like some of the Farraley Bros past work that went down some of the same paths as this one. And I do believe in the absolute freedom of speech. I’m not saying this movie shouldn’t have been made because it’s offensive. I’m saying the movie sucked because it wasn’t funny and it was dishonest in its attempts to put a fig leaf of empowerment over what is essentially schoolyard mean-spiritedness. And if it had at least been funny, I might have forgiven the second part.

I’m also involved in the film industry but I don’t think that makes my opinion on what’s funny and what isn’t any more valid. Funny is subjective. People can think this movie is horrible (I didn’t care for the few ‘talk to the hand’-type catchphrases, either, though kids seem to like them. But the roommate was hilarious, and how could you not love the karate kid guy saying "When the fuck did we stop for ice cream?’ Incidentally, my favourite charaacter was played by a ‘normal’, albeit Canadian, actor). That’s okay.
But I still don’t think it’s any more offensive than, say, Eurotrip.

Yes, Lynn didn’t end up with a handicapped man (and I agree the bit where Knoxville was set up on a date could have been played for the ick factor, had his date not been visibly bored and more likable than Lynn’s one-dimensional yuppie boyfriend). But this is not an interracial or gay love story, and I imagine that the kind of relationship you imagine is rare (not including reduced brain capacity after an accident or disease) and difficult to uphold. Also, Lynn was volunteering at the Special Olympics, and made it clear that relationships between herself and participants was verboten. Okay, maybe she wasn’t planning on pursuing a relationship with a challenged person but… how realistic would that be? Stats, anyone? I just don’t think “nerds” and “mentally handicapped” are two comparable groups when it comes to romance, at least not in most cases (though I have seen Pumpkin). If it were the paralympics, I’d understand the outrage.

Believe me, I respect your opinion, and was expecting to feel the same way after sitting through the first part of the movie. But the reason I posted in the first place was because I was so relieved that the experience wasn’t horrible and cringe-worthy.

I stand by my comment that anything mean-spirited in the film (except maybe towards the gambling uncle) is in its interpretation. But I didn’t hear one nasty comment afterwards, even from the frat types, and all the Special Olympic participants in attendance seemed to love it.