Johnny Knoxville was due to finally get his time to shine in the spotlight. He had done an admirable job in his bit roles given to him in "Men in Black II", "Deuces Wild" and even the terrible new "Walking Tall". Not to mention that he was usually the best part of the show where he first got his start, "Jackass". Too often I've seen bit actors get their chance to carry a movie and it's done with mixed results.
In "The Ringer", Johnny plays a guy who's down on his luck and tries to come off as mentally challenged so he can compete in the Special Olympics. I don't know about everyone else, but that premise alone was enough for me to want to check this one out. Then add to it the fact that Knoxville is the guy doing it and I'm sold.
I couldn't figure out if the other main characters who were mentally challenged were people who really are or if they were just acting their butts off like Giovanni Ribisi in "The Other Sister". There were a couple that I did recognize from seeing in other movies like the cat from "Galaxy Quest"; however, the others could have easily passed for the real thing.
What measures does the Special Olympics even put in place to assure that something like this really can't happen? I mean what's to stop a regular person from just faking some documents and acting to compete in these? True, they'd have to be pretty desperate for attention to try something like that. Still, couldn't it happen?
They could have really gone off the deep end with this one and offended a lot of people by making fun of mentally challenged people. Instead, they go the opposite direction and Knoxville's character realizes how they are all just regular people when he befriends them after they find out he's a fraud.
To add to the whole atmosphere that the Special Olympics are actually important, they had the nerve to show Steve Levy from ESPN commentating and even had the events televised. In what bar in America would you EVER see the Special Olympics televised? And I'm not talking about just "highlights"; I'm talking about ALL the events! At least in "Dodgeball" they played it off by showing it was a tiny network like ESPN 8 that was televising the obscure sport.
That small oversight wasn't enough to derail this one. There may not have been tons of gutbusting laughter moments, but there were still enough funny moments to make it a nice flick. It also helps that people think I'm a little touched myself. So maybe that's why I was able to connect with this one.
My rating: B