Pressured by a greedy uncle (Brian Cox) and a pile of debt, lovable loser Steve Barker (Knoxville) resorts to an unthinkable, contemptible, just-crazy-enough-to-work scheme. He pretends to be mentally challenged to rig the upcoming Special Olympics and bring home the gold. But when Steve's fellow competitors get wise to the con, they inspire him to rise to the greatest challenge of all: becoming a better person.
Produced by the fearless Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hal), The Ringer will keep you smiling all the way to the finish line!
Johnny Knoxville (Jackass, A Dirty Shame) stars as a man who pretends to be mentally challenged so he can fix the Special Olympics. This morally dubious premise (the movie goes to great lengths to be sure you understand how appalling it is) is not as inflammatory as it could be--The Ringer is careful not to mock its mentally challenged characters. This is sometimes a source of strength, as some of the funniest jokes come from the perspective of the athletes--for example, a group of the other athletes recognize that Steve (Knoxville) is not the high-functioning mentally disabled guy he pretends to be, but they go along with the masquerade and even help Steve because they can't stand the snotty reigning champion. But this respectfulness also makes the movie feel cautious and inhibited (one imagines there's a wealth of un-PC jokes that got cut out of the script so it could pass muster with the Special Olympics, who gave the movie its blessing). As a result, the movie's real plot turns out to be a love story, as Steve falls for one of the Special Olympics volunteers (Katherine Heigl, Romy and Michelle: In the Beginning) and has to find sneaky ways to undermine her slimy boyfriend. All in all, an uneven comedy with occasional flashes of wicked wit. Also featuring the always welcome Brian Cox (Adaptation, X-Men 2). --Bret Fetzer