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"READY TO RUMBLE"
(2000) (David Arquette, Scott Caan) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: After their professional wrestling idol loses his championship belt and is thrown out of the league, two of his fans set out to help him regain his fame.
PLOT:
Gordie Boggs (DAVID ARQUETTE) and Sean Dawkins (SCOTT CAAN) are two young Wyoming men who spend their days cleaning out septic tanks and porta-potties while dreaming of being like their professional wrestling idol, Jimmy King (OLIVER PLATT). Both still live at home - Gordie with his cop father who thinks his dreams of becoming a wrestler are foolish and pressures him to join the rest of the family in law enforcement - and thus when WCW Monday Nitro rolls into town, the two think they've died and gone to Heaven.

For not only do they get to see the sexy Nitro girls - including Sasha (ROSE McGOWAN) - but they also get the privilege of being in the same building as their idol. Unfortunately for them and King, WCW promoter Titus Sinclair (JOE PANTOLIANO) has decided it's time for King's reign to be over and instructs the champ's opponent, Diamond Dallas Page (DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE) to defeat him in a most physical way.

Disheartened over his loss and being thrown out of the league, King becomes a recluse, much to the dismay of the equally unbelieving and upset Gordie and Sean. After an accident causes them to believe destiny is controlling their lives, the two young men decide to seek out King and restore him to his thrown. Unfortunately, he's less than enthusiastic about the idea, but they eventually convince him and opportunistically set up a "cage" rematch with Diamond Dallas.

Realizing that they have less than a week to get King back in shape for the match, Gordie and Sean seek out the help of various people, including King's former wrestling partner, Bill Goldberg (GOLDBERG), and legendary wrestling coach Sal Bandini (MARTIN LANDAU), to prepare the ex-champ. As the big day nears, the unlikely threesome faces various obstacles while attempting to re-crown King.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
While I'll admit I'm by no means an expert on the following cinematic activity and haven't spent much time keeping track of it, I'd wager that this week's release of "Ready to Rumble" may just hold the world record for containing the most instances of men being kicked or otherwise hit in the crotch, at least for mainstream films.

Although that physical action is a tactic many women are taught to use in defending themselves and men instinctively know it's in their best interest to block such an attempt, it's something - for who knows what reason -- that's seemingly becoming more commonplace in today's movies. Many live-action kids films deploy it to elicit laughs whenever the villains get hit there, while action films and teen sex comedies seem to have a certain quota to fill as well in eliciting the "Ow, I'm glad that wasn't me" response.

Yet, few, if any, movies I've seen in the past several years include so many instances of men being hit in that region as does this one, and a tightly edited, closing credits "highlight" replay of such action in the film only seals the deal. One can only imagine the urologists and infertility experts out there just shaking their heads at the thought of how much business this film could bring them.

Of course, for a film that also tries to, and often succeeds at drawing laughs from its target audience of male teenagers by including plenty of gross out, scatological moments (such as a scene where a key character has his finger up his own butt or another that has him and his buddy eating lunch while the contents of their septic truck leak out right next to them), the inclusion of such material shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Yes, for those who just couldn't stand another minute here on Earth without yet another film inspired by the antics of "Dumb and Dumber" or most any Adam Sandler film, your reprieve has arrived with this picture. Aimed squarely at those who love comedy stemming from jokes about sewage, nuns farting, general inanity or anything to do with the world of professional wrestling, this film will probably appease them, but few others. It certainly seems destined for a quick trip to the video stores after a possible brief score of the box office.

Working from a script by Steven Brill (the "Mighty Ducks" films), director Brian Robbins ("Varsity Blues," "Good Burger") takes a shotgun approach to filmmaking with his effort here. By throwing a scattershot of material at the audience and hoping to hit a certain percentage of successful comedic moments, Robbins hedges his bets with the approach, but rarely hits the target let alone any imaginatively humorous notes.

That is, of course, unless you're a fan of purposefully insipid and over the top acting, anemic writing and the aforementioned crotch beatings and scatological "humor." While stupid movies with their stupid characters and plots have their place and can work if handled properly and with any semblance of some imagination or at least a little intelligent thought, such pictures are still an acquired taste. It's doubtful, however, that this unsavory film will generate many converts.

The plot, and I use that term loosely, is merely a haphazard collections of vignettes and skit material that's been assembled to resemble a movie. In execution it comes off as an even more lame than the melodramatic, out of the ring moments that bookend the actual matches on televised professional wrestling programs.

I can just see the filmmakers sitting around and dreaming up this baby: Filmmaker #1: "Let's capitalize on the wrestling craze and make a movie." Filmmaker #2: "Okay, but it has to include a lot of scenes of men being hit in the crotch. Audiences love that." Filmmaker #3: "And raw sewage jokes."

Filmmaker #1: How about a scene where a character walks into a convenience store with his finger up his butt?" Filmmaker #2: "Yeah! And the guys can teach some nuns that Van Halen song, "Running With the Devil," cuz, you know, it's like funny in an ironic way." Filmmaker #3: "So are poop jokes!" Filmmaker #1: "Okay, let's throw in some wrestling scenes, sign up some well-known wrestlers, a few curvaceous babes, and we'll have our target audience of pimple-faced geeks eating out of our hands. Let's go make a movie!"

Sorry, I forgot to flash the "dramatization" sign during the above, but I imagine you get the point. The performances, natch, are pretty much what one would expect for a film like this. David Arquette (the "Scream" films, those annoying AT&T commercials) does his usual, near psychotic dweeb meets idiot shtick that one can only hope is an act (God help him if it isn't). Scott Caan ("Boiler Room," "Varsity Blues"), who looks more like his famous actor father (James Caan) every day, is easier to tolerate than his co-star, but obviously won't win any acting accolades for his performance.

While I suppose it's part of the point, Oliver Platt ("Lake Placid," "Bulworth") is horribly miscast as a professional wrestling champion and misses some wonderful opportunities to really lampoon the "sport" and its participants. Meanwhile, Joe Pantoliano ("The Matrix," "The Fugitive") dons some long locks and a one-dimensional villainous demeanor, Rose McGowan ("Jawbreaker," "Phantoms") is present to show off her assets, and Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau ("Ed Wood," "Tucker: The Man and His Dream") is inexplicably present (much like in the film "B.A.P.S.") as an old but still agile and wily wrestling coach. Various real life wrestlers appear as themselves and do a good job coming off looking like professional wrestlers.

If you're a fan of films such as this you're either a) too busy watching wrestling and/or laughing at sounds emanating from your or other's bodies to be reading this or b) writing me some hate mail telling me to 1) Get a life, 2) Get a sense of humor or 3) Well, I can't print what some people write.

For everyone else, this spectacularly inane and poorly made film should probably be skipped lest you risk suffering irreparable brain damage that might then make you think this pablum is funny. And that's a fate far worse than a swift kick to the crotch. Sophomoric to such a degree that it might become a hit among prepubescent and younger teenage boys, "Ready to Rumble" rates as just a 1 out of 10.




Reviewed April 4, 2000 / Posted April 7, 2000


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