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:: The Ringer

After watching The Ringer I can see how it could be viewed as a slightly controversial comedy because of its close shave with political incorrectness. However I believe instead that the Farrelly brothers delivered an endearing, sweet, if slightly predictable humorous film.

The opening scene of the movie with Steve Barker (Knoxville) chanting positive affirmations at his workplace of ‘I’m special, I’m special’ sets the plot for what is essentially a story about how a good hearted guy gets himself into a seat squirming position where he pretends to be mentally challenged in order to enter the Special Olympics, rig them, and win a large amount of money to get himself out of a tricky situation with his friend Stavi, for whom he has to pay for a lawnmower accident where Stavi lost his fingers!

There is of course, the easily predictable sub plot of a love story that runs through out the film between Knoxville’s character and Lynn (Heigl), an angelic volunteer worker at the Special Olympics. When Steve is pressured by his slimy Uncle Gary (Cox) to “fix the Special Olympics!” Steve is reluctant to take advantage of what he considers underprivileged people. However, what he discovers as Jeffy-his alter ego and ‘supposed’ mentally challenged competitor, when he decides to go ahead with the scam, is that all the attendants are just as smart, funny and engaging as he himself, or what is termed in the film as the ‘normal’ people. His competitors discover right away that he is an impostor but want to use him to knock off their arch rival and Special Olympics champion Jimmy, who constantly wins the games. They team up with Jeffy/Steve to train and create chaos in the village, as well as forming some romances of their own discluding the growing feelings between Knoxville’s character and Lynn the volunteer.

The Special Olympics itself has backed the film and raised funds for the movie have been donated to this cause. This knowledge may certainly help with some of the more squeamish jokes that are made through out the film that may seem to border on being politically incorrect. Overall, though, the script seems to balance out and get it right. At the conclusion of the film it seems a slightly noble and important message has been underlying that bathes the cast with integrity and Knoxville’s role certainly helps with this. The message highlights that there should not be such a strong social divide and separation with mentally challenged people and the rest of society, who prove in this film to be in some cases smarter, more humorous and more engaging then those in the “normal” roles.

The downfall of the film would certainly be its predictability not only with its plot but with its humour and in some cases with Knoxville’s characters ‘easy laugh’ physical gags. It is not a film that will blow you away but it should not expect to be, it is rather a light hearted comedy that should leave no reason to feel offended, but should instead teach us all a few lessons about understanding. If you miss it at the cinema it’s a perfect DVD film.