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Film / The Ringer

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The Ringer is a 2005 comedy film directed by Barry W. Blaustein and starring Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, and Katherine Heigl.

Steve Baker (Knoxville) hates his job. After two years of being stuck in a menial position, he finally works up the nerve to ask his boss for a promotion. To his surprise, he gets it, but there's a hitch: his first assignment is to fire the janitor, his friend Stavi (Luis Ávalos). He does, but decides to cut him a break, and hire him to mow the lawn at his apartment...

...where Stavi gets his fingers cut off trying to get the mower working. With no insurance, and not enough money to afford the operation, all seems hopeless. Enter Steve's Uncle Gary (Cox), a dirtbag deep in money to some bad people. After seeing a spot on superstar Special Olympics athlete Jimmy Washington, he hatches a plan to save his own skin, and Stavi's fingers: have Steve pretend to be mentally challenged and enter him in the Special Olympics.

This film provides examples of:

  • Bad "Bad Acting": Steve's disabled act doesn't fool the real disabled athletes for a minute.
    Mark: I've seen better acting on pornos!
    • It does do a good job at fooling the workers and audience, though.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: After admitting his act to a preacher in a confessional, said preacher proceeds to punch through the window and right in Steve's face.
  • Berserk Button: Steve's gets hit when Gary repeatedly calls the other athletes "retards."
    Steve: Don't ever say that word to me again! I mean it. These guys are my friends.
  • Brick Joke: The priest that threw Steve out of church for confessing his scheme comes back in another scene to bet on him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Karma never misses an opportunity to bite Steve in the ass for what he's doing.
    • The first we see of Stavi is him being fired. Then his fingers get chopped off. Then he's revealed as a single dad of five children. His final scene is him dropping a sandbag onto his own head.
  • The Cameo: The Kids of Widney High make two memorable appearances.
  • Character Name Alias: While pretending to be disabled, Steve adopts the name Jeffy Dahmor, last name pronounced the same as that of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Counting to Potato: Steve Baker is pretending to be mentally retarded, and one of the things he says while practicing in the mirror is, "I can count to potato!"
  • Dance Party Ending: One of the most heart-warming you’ll ever see.
  • Darkhorse Victory: Glen, one of the other athletes that Steve befriends, wins the competition, while Jimmy places second and Steve third (and even then, Steve will give up his medal to the fourth-place athlete when he decides to abandon the charade out of his new-found respect for the Special Olympians). However, Steve still wins the bet that gets him the money he needs, since the bet wasn't for Steve to win, but for Jimmy to lose.
  • A Day in the Limelight: A movie about Special Olympics with many notable roles by disabled actors.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Steve doesn't train for the games like the actual disable athletes did. It gets him smoked over and over again before his Training Montage.
  • Fingore: Stavi gets his fingers chopped off fiddling with the mower.
  • Graceful Loser: Jimmy Washington, despite being portrayed a Jerk Jock with an ego problem, is polite about his silver medal.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Played with. The athletes are disabled, but they know how to play it up around their supervisors.
  • Jerk Jock: Jimmy Washington. Powerful enough that he could compete with neurotypical athletes if he wanted, and all too aware of that fact.
  • Large Ham: Brian Cox has fun with his limited role.
    Steve: Actually I need $28,000.
    Gary: 28 GRAND! What'd you do, knock up a cheerleading squad?!"
  • Lighter and Softer: Much more family friendly than the average Farrelly Brothers or Johnny Knoxville movie.
  • Not So Above It All: The priest who punches out Steve for attempting to cheat in the Special Olympics is later seen in a bar betting on him with his uncle's bookie..
  • Obfuscating Disability: Played for Laughs. Steve, hoping to win big, fakes being mentally handicapped to compete in the Special Olympics. The other athletes see through him immediately, but help him keep up the facade, because they're hoping he can defeat Jerk Jock frontrunner Jimmy.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Steve slipping out of his disabled voice in annoyance is what tips the other athletes off that he's faking.
  • Precision F-Strike: When David's trying to cover the athletes' late return.
    David: We stopped off for ice cream.
    Winston: When the fuck did we get ice cream?
  • Shown Their Work: As this article shows The Farrelly Brothers have a long history working as advocates for people with disabilities. The movie really captures the spirit of Special Olympics as well.
  • Take That!: Among Steve's movies about mentally challenged people is "The Best of Chevy Chase".
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Steve goes to confess his sins to a priest, who tries to reassure him that everyone can be forgiven. As soon as Steve tells him exactly what his sin was, the priest beats him up and throws him out of the church.