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Movie review

Avoid the guilt trip of 'Ringer'

Published January 2, 2006

MOVIE: The Ringer

RATING: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some drug references

SUMMARY: In a pinch for money, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) collaborates with his also financially troubled uncle, Gary (Brian Cox), in a scam to rig the Special Olympics. Posing as a mentally challenged man named Jeffy, Steve believes that his abilities will far surpass those of the real Special Olympians, guaranteeing a big payoff on his uncle's high-dollar bet. Upon finishing his first race against some truly high-class athletes, he quickly realizes that his task will not be easily accomplished.

MY VIEW: This is the latest offering from the notoriously adventurous Farrelly brothers, and their intentions here are questionable at best. This film is touted as an encouraging piece of work that glorifies the Special Olympians (who are, indeed, extraordinary people) without being blatantly offensive. The filmmakers employed 150 of the organization's athletes as actors/stand-ins, and the organization's chairman and CEO, Timothy Shriver, had final say over the script. It seems as though that would assure a clean, completely nonoffensive product. The end result, however, is an uncomfortable attempt that patronizes rather than glorifies, and wins nothing but nervous laughs from the audiences (who, in my case, didn't know whether to laugh or to be offended). Strangely enough, the humor is fairly tame (especially by the Farrellys' standards), yet it still manages to create just enough tension to make for a bad movie-going experience. All controversy aside, it's really not even that funny. Some may believe that this is a noble attempt, but I honestly felt guilty watching it. Nobody wants to go to the movies to feel guilty.

RECOMMENDATIONS: In my winter movie preview, before I had seen the film, I recommended that this film be avoided at all costs, strictly based on initial reports and the film's guilt-inducing preview. After seeing the film and giving it my honest evaluation, I stand by my initial counsel. There's really no need to see this film.


Billy Norris, 18, is in the 12th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the X-Team.

[Last modified December 30, 2005, 09:38:04]

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