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"RINGMASTER"
(1998) (Jerry Springer, Jaime Pressly) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Extreme None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None *Moderate Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Mild Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A mother, tired of her daughter fooling around with her own stepfather, books them on a talk show whose host must deal with them and the wild, crazy, and often uncontrollable antics of the show's other guests.
PLOT:
Connie Zorzak (MOLLY HAGAN) is a thirty-something trailer park inhabitant who believes that her unemployed husband, Rusty (MICHAEL DUDIKOFF), and her 19-year-old white trash daughter, Angel (JAIME PRESSLY), are fooling around.

Despite being engaged to Willie (ASHLEY HOLBROOK), Angel's libido has her sleeping with men who frequent the hotel where she works as a maid, as well as with Rusty, her stepfather. After catching the two having sex, Connie decides to have sex with Willie to spite them.

Meanwhile, Starletta (WENDY RAQUEL ROBINSON) has just caught her boyfriend, Demond (MICHAEL JAI WHITE), cheating on her with her best friend, Vonda (TANGIE AMBROSE). Accompanied by another friend, Leshawnette (NICKI MICHEAUX), who's also slept with Demond, Starletta, just like Connie, decides to get revenge by exposing her lover's and friends' deeds on national television.

Thus, the two women drag everyone involved in their sordid affairs onto "The Jerry Show" where host Jerry Farrelly (JERRY SPRINGER) acts as the ringmaster for the wild, crazy, and often uncontrolled antics of his guests who've been booked by the shows producers, Troy (WILLIAM MACNAMARA) and Natalie (DAWN MAXEY).

As the participants for the show's two segments get together, it's not long before Angel and Connie are competing to see who'll first bed Demond, causing Starletta to go after them in a jealous rage that all comes to a boil during the taping of the show.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of "The Jerry Springer Show" on TV, and want to see something of an uncensored version of it, they probably will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
Considering all what occurs during the film, it's doubtful many parents would consider any of the characters as good role models (even Jerry who profits from, and broadcasts, such shows).
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
Upon first hearing about this film and then later seeing its trailer, the only thing that raced through my mind were the repeated lyrics in an energetically peppy song performed by the rock group R.E.M. where lead vocalist Michael Stipe continually states, "It's the end of the world as we know it." While he concludes such repetition in that song by singing, "And I feel fine," I couldn't be any further from feeling the complete, polar opposite of that.

Having dragged TV to the bottom of the barrel with his idiotic, absolute lowest common denominator TV show, talk show host Jerry Springer now plans to do the same to motion pictures with this awful release. To state that it should have gone straight-to-video (or perhaps in the trash can) is a "no-brainer," and if not for the quirky and sad, but quite huge success of his daytime TV show, it most definitely would never have seen the light of a theater projector.

It's probably not difficult to realize that I'm not a fan of "The Jerry Springer Show," although I accept the still unbelievable fact that it's quite popular among its viewers who number in the millions. As such, the most I've seen of the show are clips shown on other programs, but it's not difficult to see what draws in the viewers.

People seem to love watching the Id (Freud's theory of everyone's amoral basic instinct) at work - - especially when displayed in the form of people dwelling well below one's own social circle -- and the show's filled with such people who've slept with, cheated on, or participated in any variety of other sordid behavior that they oddly wish to discuss on national TV. There's been some debate about whether the guests on the show are "real" people or just paid actors, but the show's audience doesn't seem to mind.

Well, in the moronic big screen version of the show, the guests are actors -- loosely labeled as such -- and this isn't a documentary of the talk show. Nor is it a well-deserved spoof, although the show's so far out there, what with the chair throwing and hair pulling behavior, etc..., that mounting a comedy to poke exaggerated fun at it would be next to impossible.

Nonetheless, anything would have been better than this lame, poorly acted and near plot-less mess that serves only to promote the current TV show. While our preview audience -- apparently filled with fans of that show -- seemed to enjoy it, trust us, it's really bad.

Beyond the generally inane concept and the fact that it's nothing more than a longer, unedited and somewhat "fictitious" look at the show, the film's biggest fault is that it's neither funny nor outrageous enough to make it even close to being worthwhile. Although it seems to be poking fun at its guests and target audience (whatever happened to not biting the hand that feeds you?), the flat and stiffly constructed caricature excuses for characters are too far gone to allow the film to eke out any sort of humor from them.

To make matters worse, those expecting a "wild and crazy" version of the TV show will also be disappointed. While there are some bare breasts and sexually related material and profanity (most of which doesn't occur on the film's TV talk show), it's difficult to exceed what already occurs and appears on the show (short of the film showing something that would push it into the NC-17 range). Consequently, the material and events that unfold come off as boring and uneventful.

Springer fans may also be upset to learn that he's far from being the film's central character and isn't really a pivotal piece of the plot. To his credit, Springer doesn't try to play anything apparently more than himself -- although there's a painful and too obvious self-deprecating bit where he tries to sing a country western song and another where he shows off his less than buff physique -- and apparently realizes his limited acting skills.

Nonetheless, his subdued performance and presence robs the film of any last hopes it had for displaying some energy. When he finally gets around to being proactive -- in a "for the masses" speech about his show -- the result is the funniest, albeit unintentional, moment in the film as he claims how important his show is for serving as one of the few outlets for the poor and disfranchised. Sorry Jerry, the only poor people are the ones who have to sit through this travesty.

The rest of the performances are understandably and uniformly bad. Played by a number of actors and actresses who've mostly populated unseen "B" and straight-to-video productions, the characters are nothing but flimsy, cardboard cutouts.

That, coupled with a barely developed "plot" -- courtesy of scribe Jon Bernstein (a TV movie of the week writer) -- that feels about three hours longer than it is, and which wouldn't have cut it even on the lowliest sitcom that's canceled before the end of its first season, ends up resulting in a film that can't be called much more than a complete waste of film stock.

Of course with the film opening right before Thanksgiving, it's a guarantee that many will call this fiasco a "turkey," but that's too easy and far too cruel for those fowl who already face enough problems this time of year without being compared to a mess like this. While diehard Springer fans might find a few small morsels to savor, no one else will. We give "Ringmaster" a 0 out of 10.

OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
Here's a look at the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with nearly 50 "f" words and a wide assortment of other words and phrases. Nonsexual nudity occurs in several scenes where we see bare-breasted women, but sexually related talk occurs throughout the film and several encounters (with movement and sounds) also occur.

Most of that activity exhibits bad attitudes among the participants as people have affairs with their stepfathers, daughter's fiances, or total strangers with all of those characters portrayed as white trash or jive-talking black folk.

Some onstage and behind the scenes fighting occurs (much like the fights that occur on the show - - hair pulling, name calling, etc...) and we also witness a few characters who are drunk. Since kids who are fans of the TV show from which this is based may want to see this release, you should take a closer look at what's been listed if you're still concerned about the film's appropriateness.


ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see a beer bottle next to Rusty's bed.
  • People have drinks in a bar.
  • We see that Connie has nearly finished a mini bottle of liquor, and later appears somewhat drunk as she has drinks with a man in a bar.
  • Starletta's friends have wine in their hotel room.
  • Willie has a drink in a bar, and Starletta shows up and quickly downs a shot of tequila.
  • Later, Willie buys some booze at the liquor store and drinks it from a brown paper bag and later appears very drunk.
  • Connie and Angel have drinks in a bar, and when Angel (who's pregnant) questions whether she should drink, Connie says that it's okay since she drank when she was pregnant with Angel.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly hear a man peeing in a urinal.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Rusty and Angel, despite being Connie's husband and daughter, respectively, have sex even when she's in the trailer with them. For revenge, Connie has sex with Angel's fiance.
  • Demond cheats on his girlfriend and has sex with many other women.
  • Some may see Jerry Springer, his TV show, and this movie as having both for promoting -- or at least broadcasting -- this sort of material.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Sweet f*cking Jesus," "Bitch" (said many times), "Needle d*ck," "Suck him off" and "Blow job," "Whore," "Sucks," "Shut up," "Skank," "Slut" and "Pissed."
  • Some kids may want to imitate some of the behavior in the film (notably the "fights" that involve hair pulling, name calling etc...).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A rap song sounded like it referenced characters "doing each other" and another sounded like it included the word "p*ssy." Since most of the lyrics were unintelligible, other similar material may also be present.
  • PROFANITY
  • The following should be considered a minimum: At least 47 "f" words (9 used sexually, 3 used with "mother"), 19 "s" words, 4 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck" and "p*cker"), 1 possible slang term for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 38 asses (1 used with "hole"), 12 hells, 8 damns, 2 S.O.B.'s and 2 uses each of "G-damn," "Oh God" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "God," "Lord," "Oh Lord," "Lord have mercy" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Angel unexpectedly walks in on a man in his hotel room. He tells her that she doesn't have to leave, and so she kneels down before him, works on his zipper, and then has oral sex with him (we only see his pleasured reaction, but also hear related sexual sounds). This man later tells Angel that his buddy told him to get a room on a certain floor (knowing that's where Angel worked) if he wanted to "get a good blow job."
  • A woman comments about a man with a "d*ck the size of a needle" on a segment of Jerry's show where a person claims they're pregnant by another woman's husband.
  • As Rusty tries to make moves on the willing Angel, he says, "Baby, I need it."
  • We see Vonda having sex on top of Demond (under the sheets) with lots of movement and sounds. When Starletta walks in on them, Demond hops out of bed and we see the side of his bare butt as well as him holding something in front of his groin area.
  • A woman flashes her bare breasts at Jerry in a restaurant.
  • We see two bare-breasted women on Jerry's show (one of whom also wears a thong-like bottom). The two eventually and graphically French kiss each other.
  • A man asks whether Jerry's show ever does episodes about people who are attracted to farm animals.
  • After Connie has left, Rusty and Angel comment on "doing it on the big bed tonight." We then see her (in her high cut bikini underwear) on top of him on the bed and he tells her to do "that thing your momma won't do."
  • Angel and Rusty have sex under the sheets with movement and sounds, but no nudity.
  • Connie goes to Willie, kneels down in front of him (outside) and performs oral sex on him. We not only see his pleasured reaction, but also a shot from behind her that shows her moving her head at his crotch.
  • Later, Angel tells her mom, "I didn't say you could borrow my jacket." Connie responds, "I didn't say you could f*ck my husband." She then acts like she has some semen on the jacket and comments on "how much stuff comes out." Connie then throws a used diaphragm to Angel, stating that she borrowed it (and we later learn that Rusty got Angel pregnant because she didn't have it to use during sex).
  • We hear a woman moaning "Oh Jerry" and then see a woman having sex on top of him under the sheets.
  • We see Connie in her bra, and other instances of Angel in her high cut, bikini underwear or tightfitting tops and cut off jeans.
  • Rusty gives Willie some advice on how to keep Angel happy and sticks his tongue out and rapidly moves it (implying oral sex).
  • We see part of a woman's bare butt as she shows Jerry her tattoo on it.
  • Angel makes a comment that includes the phrase, "suck him off."
  • Angel and Demond have sex with her on top of him (and sounds, but no nudity).
  • A question is asked, "Did you ever f*ck a girl and her mother on the same night?"
  • Troy makes out with a drag queen (a man dressed like a woman) and we later hear that the two had sex (with Troy not knowing it was a guy). We also later see this man wearing a bra and panties.
  • Connie admits to getting pregnant when she was fifteen.
  • As Connie and Angel spot their new "hunk" neighbor, Angel comments that the man has really big feet (implying something about the size of another part of his anatomy).
  • SMOKING
  • Both Angel and Connie smoke several times, while Rusty and Willie smoke once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Connie learns that her daughter is having sex with Rusty, her stepfather.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether the people and incidents portrayed on the TV show are real or staged.
  • The sordid activity of those people.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A waitress hits a man on the head with her menu for insulting Jerry.
  • Angel slugs a cop (when he asks her to leave a checking cashing counter) and she's subsequently arrested.
  • Connie hits Rusty.
  • Starletta and Angel get into a hair pulling, grabbing at each tussle in the hallway.
  • Angel throws something at Rusty that shatters when it hits the wall next to him.
  • We see several instances of the guests on the show, particularly Starletta and Angel, fighting with each other (hair pulling, having to be pulled apart, etc...).



  • Reviewed November 19, 1998 / Posted on November 25, 1998

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