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The Ringer

Released on: 23 Dec 2005 • Rated: PG-13 • Runtime: 94 min

Genre: Comedy, Sport

Director: Barry W. Blaustein
Writer: Ricky Blitt
Actors: Johnny Knoxville, Katherine Heigl, Brian Cox

Plot: A young guy’s only option to erase a really bad debt is to rig the Special Olympics by posing as a contestant.

Box Office Gross: $35,428,675

Awards: 1 nomination








“The Ringer,” the 2005 comedy that dared to tread where few comedies have, stars Johnny Knoxville in a role that’s as surprisingly heartfelt as it is hilariously outrageous. Directed by Barry W. Blaustein, this film takes a premise that could have easily veered into the realm of the offensive and turns it into a story with unexpected depth and warmth.

Plot Overview

Johnny Knoxville plays Steve Barker, a down-on-his-luck guy who, in a desperate bid to solve his financial problems, hatches a scheme to rig the Special Olympics by posing as an athlete. Yes, you read that right. It’s a plot that sounds like a recipe for disaster (or at least a PR nightmare), but stick with me here. As Steve dives deeper into his ill-conceived plan, he not only faces the expected comedic mishaps but also forms genuine friendships with the athletes, leading to a journey of self-discovery and a reevaluation of his own perceptions and prejudices.

Character Dynamics

Knoxville’s portrayal of Steve is surprisingly nuanced, balancing the comedic aspects of his situation with a growing sense of empathy and respect for his fellow athletes. The real stars, however, are the Special Olympians themselves, portrayed by actual athletes with intellectual disabilities. They bring a sense of authenticity and heart to the film, often stealing the scene with their humor and charisma. The dynamic between Steve and his new friends, particularly his roommate Jeffy (played brilliantly by Leonard Flowers), is the emotional core of the film.

Cinematography and Visuals

The film’s visuals are straightforward, with a focus on the characters and their interactions. The cinematography doesn’t aim for artistic flair but rather serves to support the story and its comedic and heartfelt moments.

Comedy and Tone

“The Ringer” walks a fine line with its premise, but it does so with a surprising amount of tact and heart. The humor comes not from mocking the athletes but from the absurdity of Steve’s situation and his bumbling attempts to pull off his scam. The film manages to be funny without being mean-spirited, which is a delicate balance to achieve given the subject matter.

Soundtrack and Score

The soundtrack is a mix of upbeat contemporary tracks and more subdued scores that underscore the film’s emotional moments. The music complements the film’s tone, shifting appropriately to match the story’s movement from comedy to heartfelt drama.


In conclusion, “The Ringer” is a film that could have easily gone wrong but instead delivers a heartwarming and genuinely funny experience. It’s a reminder not to judge a book by its cover (or a comedy by its outrageous premise). Johnny Knoxville shows a range that many might not expect from him, and the film itself delivers an important message about inclusion, acceptance, and the human spirit. So, if you’re in the mood for a comedy that’ll make you laugh and maybe even tear up a bit, give “The Ringer” a shot. It’s a film that surprises in the best possible way.

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