Ready to Rumble

Ready to Rumble, directed by Brian Robbins and written by Steven
Brill, might have been called “Dumb and Dumber Go to the Mat.” Its ostensible
look behind the scenes at professional wrestling could have followed the trail
blazed by the excellent Beyond the Mat, reviewed here last month. Instead
the movie settles for repeated attempts at Farrelly brothers-style gross-out
humor — attempts which, almost invariably, fail. I mean the humor part, not
the gross-out part. The latter is very successful indeed, but without the humor
not likely to be many people’s idea of a fun night out at the movies. On the
other hand, if you’re the kind of person who thinks that a bunch of farting nuns
singing Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the devil” is screamingly funny, this may be
the movie for you.

Another reason why the film fails, I think, is its obvious contempt for the
people it portrays, in spite of its inclusion in the cast of some real wrestlers
who get mostly respectful treatment. Its main character, a crowd-idol called
Jimmy King (Oliver Platt) who wrestles in royal regalia is an appalling scumbag,
and the two fans, Sean (Scott Caan) and Gordie (David Arquette) who guide him
back from defeat and disgrace to another shot at the championship are not much
better. True, at a crucial moment, Jimmy promises his long-abandoned slattern of
a wife and their cretinous son to put his life in order again and do right by
them both, but we never see this happening, and both wife and son are such
unattractive characters themselves that we don’t much care if it ever does

Likewise, Gordie’s dad is a fanatical state policeman who wants Gordie to
follow in his footsteps instead of becoming a slacker and wrestling groupie.
After all, the rest of the family are all cops, and dad boasts proudly one day
when Gordie comes home that “Your sister shot her first perp today.”
Dad — who is also a homophobe and latent homosexual — likes shooting
things, and even points his weapon at Gordie in an attempt to make him behave
and take his police exam. Ha ha. Those red-neck cops are obviously even dumber
than the wrestling fans whom they affect to look down on.

Actually, dad is given the movie’s best line. When Gordie bleats that his
life as “The King’s” groupie he is just “following my dream,” dad replies:
“Charlie Manson was following his dream. So was Joe Stalin. So was Michael
Bolton. You get my point.”

And, briefly, Gordie does get the point. When Sean and the King urge him to
follow them to the big match by saying “It’s your dream” he replies: “My dream’s
stupid….It’s time to put away childish things.”

Yeah, right. See if you can get odds on the duration of that
resolution. No one makes any money on a movie in which the idiot slackers
actually grow up.

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