Perpetually toeing the line that divides hilariously poor taste from forced humanitarian concern, the brothers Farrelly are now caught in a purgatory somewhere between John Waters and Frank Capra. Perhaps as penance for There’s Something About Mary‘s intellectually disabled lightning rod Warren (“Franks and beans!”) and Me, Myself & Irene‘s crude portrayal of multiple-personality disorder (“From gentle to mental!”), the bros have produced the self-lacerating Special Olympics–sanctioned curio The Ringer. Punching the clock as the poor man’s Adam Sandler, Johnny Knoxville plays a nine-to-fiver who decides to rig the Special Olympics as a scheme to make quick cash. Knoxville becomes Jeffy Dahmor (haw-haw), a nebulously disabled track star who attempts to best a showy, bling-blingin’ gold medal pentathlete. The movie turns progressive, I guess, in portraying some Special Olympians as villains and assholes, but why do they rally behind Dahmor after stripping off his facade? The Ringer is at least more humane than Crispin Glover’s unreleasable, unwatchable What Is It?, but it’s also an uncomfortable intermingling of message movie and gross-out comedy, a sporadically funny vehicle that indicts its audience for laughing. Come on, guys. You can’t have your fun and eat it too.
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