Movie Review by Dan Spiers
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Jed Rees, Bill Chott
Director: Barry W Blaustein
Directed by Barry W Blaustein, THE RINGER stars Johnny Knoxville, of JACKASS TV fame, as Steve Barker, a man persuaded by his Uncle Gary (Brian Cox) to fake mental illness, in order to win gold at the Special Olympics.
This monumentally misjudged decision is born out of debt. Gary must pay off a lone shark to avoid losing his limbs and Steve must pay the medical insurance of a man who lost his fingers in a lawn mower.
The theory is that Steve is not mentally disabled, so he can bet on himself and defeat the greatest Special Olympian of all time. All he need do is give himself a side parting, call himself Jeffy and wear his shorts uncomfortably high. The world will be deceived and money made.
It pains me to recall how this film, in so many ways and on so many levels is so utterly and incontrovertibly wrong. It should wreck careers. They should be mangled. Not because it is offensive. Offensive and funny is fine by me. But it is not funny, just incredibly lazy.
The movie totally misrepresents the Special Olympics. If you are going to use the event to address misconceptions of mental disability you could at least give some idea of its scale. Yet the event appears to be taking place on a school playing field and the Americans seem to be the only ones joining in. I think I saw one of the athletes racing in his pants and socks because he had forgotten his kit.
The world has moved on from thinking that those with mental disabilities are idiots with nothing to contribute to society. People with mental disabilities have lots to contribute to society. They can run fast and hold a conversation. What’s more they can be funny. THE RINGER says so.
I don’t know if it was Johnny Knoxville or not, but my abiding memory of JACKASS TV was of a man, covered in shit, emerging from an upturned portaloo. The effect of watching THE RINGER is very much the same. You’ll go in, become disorientated, and leave feeling soiled and in need of a shower.