The Ringer Blu-ray Review
Despite a recent promotion, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville, MTV’s JACKASS) is in serious need of cash. First there’s the $28,000 for his friend’s surgery to reattach his fingers, the loss of which came as a result of a lawnmower accident. And then there’s his uncle Gary’s (Brian Cox, TROY) gambling debts, which total $40,000.
Before he can open a lemonade stand or host a 24-hour dance marathon to raise the necessary funds to save his friend’s ability to hold a girl’s hand and his uncle’s kneecaps, Steve is offered another option by Gary: rig the Special Olympics. First, he’ll need to do research by watching FORREST GUMP, I AM SAM, RAIN MAN and THE BEST OF CHEVY CHASE. And then he’ll need to pick a moniker and practice questionable sayings, like “I can count to potato!” and “Can I have a slice of your doodie?”
“God, this is wrong,” Steve/Jeffy says when he gets to the site. Yes, yes it is. And that’s just how THE RINGER starts out, with Steve/Jeffy pulling his pants up too high and adopting a phony way of speaking (“Jeffy want V8.”) For that, he’s treated like the ass he is by those actually qualified for the Special Olympics: when he accidentally scratches his roommate’s favorite CD, he’s called out on it, and after one too many false moves, he’s eventually revealed as a phony.
Yes, THE RINGER starts off as a movie with the gimmick of Johnny Knoxville posing as a special needs person, which will certainly tempt many to make their own Knoxville-as-retard jokes. But THE RINGER ends up being a very caring movie, which is a bit of a surprise considering Peter and Bobby Farrelly (THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY) serve as producers and, you know, Johnny Knoxville is posing as a special needs person.
And so THE RINGER, directed by Barry W. Blaustein (1999’s wrestling documentary BEYOND THE MAT; he previously wrote THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and its sequel, THE KLUMPS), is far from encouraging the viewer to laugh at those that are “different.” (There are, of course, a handful of crude moments that will make a certain kind of viewer laugh, like the scene where the main competition is called “the Deion Sanders of retards.”)
In sidestepping what could have been an easy hole to fall into, the movie ends up being fairly likeable. The biggest issues instead come in all of the predictable elements: of course love interest Lynn’s (Katherine Heigl, 27 DRESSES) boyfriend is a huge jerk, of course Steve will admit his errors and learn his lesson, of course Steve will end up doing something good.
THE RINGER has the best of intentions, which is something that should be noted to anyone who’s heard the plotline but not seen the movie, and that makes it easy to cheer for. Steve may come off like a jerk initially, but he’s actually the sort of decent guy that will encourage his new shy buddies to talk to pretty girls at the pool.
THE RINGER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. There was nothing noticeable wrong with the quality on the DVD release, but Fox has still cleaned up the video nicely to bring out fine details and bright colors.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is also quite nice, with clear dialogue and a clean soundtrack throughout.
Commentary by the Creative Team: Director Barry W. Blaustein, screenwriter Ricky Blitt, producer Peter Farrelly and actors Johnny Knoxville, Edward Barbanell and John Taylor gather for this crowded commentary to discuss the story, characters, production and more.
Let the Games Begin: A Look at THE RINGER (7:07): Farrelly, Blaustein, Knoxville and more talk about the good intentions of the movie. Also included are clips and on-set footage.
Deleted Scenes (19:00): There are 16 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Bar Scene,” “Steve Flirts with Sarah,” “Handicapped Parking,” “Do You Party?” “Karate Practice,” “Say Something Honest,” “Mark’s Rules,” “Movie Theater Lobby,” “David Tries to Bust Jeffy,” “Rise and Shine for the Big Day,” “Special Olympics Oath,” “Winston’s Date Shows Up,” “Lynn Tells Joke to Jeffy,” “Nightmare,” “Sarah Recognizes Steven on TV” and “Steve Says Goodbye.”