Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Ringer - Retarded in More Than One Way

“The Ringer”
By: Tanner Phillips

I have a cousin who has Downs Syndrome, and I think he is an absolute hoot. The way he says things, the way he does things, it can all be very entertaining. I think most of us know someone who was “special” and gave us a few laughs. I think that’s where the writers of “The Ringer” got the idea to have a ‘normal’ man (Johnny Knoxville) pose as a mentally handicapped person so as to fix the Special Olympics to raise money for a good cause.

I was expecting a lot when I first went to see this movie. I expected to see a lot of really good acting, really funny punch lines, and some really good laughs. Laughs there were plenty to be had; funny punch lines there were quite a few; however I found that the acting was a little disappointing. To be totally honest I would say mostly on the part of Johnny Knoxville and a couple of the other non-special actors. I don’t know if they purposely had Johnny Knoxville do a somewhat awful job at being retarded, or if he just in fact is not that great of an actor. I was extremely impressed however, by the real group of “special people”. The acting by the legit retarded people was better than that of those who were not.

Now, that is of course going to be the case naturally. But it’s not just that they did a good job at being… well… retarded. It’s that they did such a good job of showing that just because someone is mentally handicapped it doesn’t mean they are totally helpless. Edward Barbanell was one of the real downs syndrome people in this movie. He did an excellent job, and I think he deserves two thumbs up for his part played in the movie. He had lots of funny one liners and he becomes one of those characters that you really grow to like. Another legitimately handicapped man in the movie is named John Taylor. John isn’t featured as much as Edward, however he too has some really funny lines, and in fact he shows off a real life talent that he has in the movie. John has a job working with music because he has a valuable talent. He can name any song he hears. Literally… He has a larger music library stored in his head than most music stores in New York City.

Some of the actors who had to play retarded folk who were not actually retarded themselves were Jed Rees (Galaxy Quest), Bill Chott, Geoffrey Arend, and Leonard Earl Howze. I must say that Jed Rees and Bill Chott were fantastic! They both deserve a big pat on the back for their work. They were hilarious, and they did a good job at selling their parts. Geoffrey Arend didn’t even come off to be retarded, and Leonard Howze came off to be a big overly retarded buffoon. He just seemed to be over trying. Katherine Heigl who plays the lovely enthusiastic and beautiful advisor did a pretty good job; though I thought her character to be a bit unrealistic. If you see the movie, you’ll understand what I mean.

I would love to say that I loved the movie as a whole. I just can’t say that. I think back on it, and I can appreciate a lot of the one liner scenes and witty jokes that are included, but as a critic who takes into account all of the things that a film needs to make a good high quality film, I can’t say that I absolutely loved this movie. I think it would be a perfect $1.00 movie to see after it makes its way into those sticky floored theatre’s; but I couldn’t say that it’s worth an $8.00 movie ticket. I would maybe venture to say that even a matinee pass might be pushing it. Many people would probably love this movie for what it is, unless you are easily offended by things of this nature. I am not telling any of you to not see it. I am just telling you to not expect a very dramatic story line that changes ever. It’s all basically one idea that stays the same along with quite a predictable ending. Its entertainment I suppose. If I were to make a recommendation to a person with very little money and who doesn’t get to the theatre too often I would recommend another movie. You want my real opinion, go see King Kong… If you’ve already seen it, then go see it again.

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