The Ringer (2005 film)
|Directed by||Barry W. Blaustein|
|Produced by||Peter Farrelly
|Written by||Ricky Blitt|
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Edited by||George Folsey Jr.|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight|
The Ringer is a 2005 comedy starring Johnny Knoxville, Katherine Heigl, Christina Cartwright, and Brian Cox with cameos by Terry Funk and Jesse Ventura. Directed by Barry W. Blaustein, it was produced by the Farrelly brothers. The film was released on December 23, 2005 by Fox Searchlight.
Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) hates his job but after over two years of working, receives a promotion. His first duty is to fire his friend Stavi, who is the janitor. Steve fires Stavi (Luis Ávalos), but hires him to work around his apartment. Stavi gets three fingers cut off in a lawn-mower accident, and reveals that he doesn't have health insurance. Steve must raise $28,000 within two weeks to pay for the surgery to re-attach his friend's fingers. His uncle Gary (Brian Cox), owes $40,000 in gambling debts and suggests that they fix the Special Olympics in San Marcos, Texas in order to solve both of their financial problems. Steve, who competed in track and field in high school as well as being in the drama club, enters the Special Olympics in the guise of a high functioning young man with learning difficulties named Jeffy Dahmor. Gary, assuming that Steve will easily defeat the legitimate contenders, bets $100,000 that reigning champion Jimmy Washington won't win the gold medal. Despite initially being disgusted at pretending to be mentally challenged, Steve goes along with it for Stavi.
During the competition, Steve falls in love with Lynn (Katherine Heigl), a volunteer for the Special Olympics. During this time, six of the other contestants bust Steve for seeing through his ruse, so he tells them about what happened with Stavi. As Steve decides to pack up and leave for his ruse being exposed, they tell Steve to stay, since they want to help Steve save Stavi's fingers and they hate the egotistical, arrogant champion Jimmy and want to see him lose.
At the final competition, Steve doesn't actually win; his friend Glen does, with Steve coming in third behind Jimmy. During the medal ceremony Steve admits that he isn't developmentally disabled, reveals his actual name, and that he doesn't deserve his medal. He then gives his medal to Thomas, who had come in fourth. Uncle Gary still ends up winning his bet, since the condition was that Jimmy would lose.
Six months later, Steve has quit his job and is working in theater, helping produce a play with the friends he made during the Special Olympics, as well as Stavi, who got his fingers reattached. Glen and the others trick Lynn into coming to the theater, so Steve starts to apologize. Lynn, who was originally shocked at the ruse, already forgives him because Stavi told her why Steve pretended to be developmentally disabled. Lynn is relieved, and they kiss.
- Johnny Knoxville as Steve Barker
- Brian Cox as Gary Barker
- Katherine Heigl as Lynn Sheridan
- Jed Rees as Glen
- Bill Chott as Thomas
- Edward Barbanell as Billy
- Leonard Earl Howze as Mark
- Geoffrey Arend as Winston
- John Taylor as Rudy
- Luis Avalos as Stavi
- Leonard Flowers as Jimmy
Professional wrestlers Terry Funk and Jesse Ventura's cameo appearances came about due to their friendship with director Barry Blaustein, who met the pair whilst filming wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat in the late 1990s. Funk portrayed one of the debt collectors, while Ventura lent his voice as a motivational speaker on tape.
The film took seven years to get made due to its controversial subject. The Special Olympics committee eventually agreed to endorse the film, the film makers having given them final say on the script.
Producer Farrelly is himself a longtime volunteer with Best Buddies, a group that provides mentoring program for people with intellectual disabilities, and has prominently featured disabled characters in his previous films such as Warren the brother of Mary in There’s Something About Mary and Rocket in Stuck on You.
When The Ringer was first brought to the media's attention, many expected a crude movie that would shine a negative light on the special needs community. Many were not for the movie, and immediately had a negative view of it. A few claim to think that they found the movie, "crude and offensive not only to me, but probably traumatizing for anyone who actually had a disability and saw this movie."
Spinal Cord Injury Zone states, "Instead of tugging at the heartstrings, “The Ringer” uses the typical outrageous Farrelly Brothers humor (There’s Something About Mary, Stuck on You, Shallow Hal) to promote the message that just like everyone else, individuals with intellectual disabilities are people first, each with their own interests, talents, abilities and personalities. The movie also features more than 150 people with intellectual disabilities in small parts and supporting roles."
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- "The Ringer (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
- "The Special Olympics approve of ‘The Ringer’". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- "Grab your popcorn and head to your local theater for The Ringer on 23 December". Specialolympics.org. 2005-10-13. Archived from the original on 2005-12-24.
- "The Ringer (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes (Flixster). Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- . "Please describe a character in a recent movie who represented a stereotype and that you found offensive"
- Ebert, Roger. "The Ringer (PG-13)." Chicago Sun Times, 22 December 2005.
- . "Spinal Cord Injury Zone," November 22, 2005.