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The Ringer (Blu-ray Review)

The Ringer TNI’ll admit it.  I realize that I’m one of the rare fans of 2005 comedy The Ringer who quite honestly has been waiting an awful long time for this one to make it to the Blu-ray format.  While it may not be the best that the comedy genre has to offer, there’s no denying that like most films the Farrelly brothers are behind the feature has some heart, bite and merit.  You can chalk it up to my past and my involvement with the Special Olympics, on the field volunteering and behind the scenes creating websites for them, but regardless whatever reasons I have for liking this one so much it always comes down to the kids and how special they really are.  The comedy is only secondary.  Now I realize maybe that’s not the correct way to market this film, but after sitting down with this one again, finally on the Blu-ray format, and taking in all the behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast, crew and athletes the message this one hits home becomes so much more apparent, one of understanding, recognition and above all else, love.  This is The Ringer!

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Film 

It’s hard to believe this one’s about eight years old.  It seems like not so long ago that this one was released by Fox Searchlight.  I mentioned the Farrelly brothers up above, but they were only the producers.  The film was directed by Barry W. Blaustein.  It stars Johnny Knoxville, who up until this point in his career churns out one of his finest performances in my opinion, Katherine Heigl, Christina Cartwright and Brian Cox.

So let me see if I can talk about this one “appropriately” without spoiling anything for the few that have not seen this.  I said appropriately right now because let’s face it the subject matter is not exactly politically correct and all.  When I first heard about this one being made I thought to myself we’ll see if this one really goes into production or not.  However, bless the Special Olympics big, beautiful hearts because they approved the screenplay and this one, against all odds in my opinion, became a reality!  The filmmakers even had the full cooperation of the Special Olympics.  Now it didn’t exactly go on to take the box office by storm, but that’s okay because it still found its way home finally to the Blu-ray format this past week, and most importantly, into my big, bountiful collection.

What I like about Knoxville’s performance here is the fact that he’s funny while being sympathetic and he proves he can carry a romantic lead.  The good thing about Katherine Heigl here is that’s she’s less annoying than usual and of course this one was produced way before her movie career seemingly tanked.    And honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Knoxville’s character, Steve, in here infiltrates the Special Olympics and impersonates an athlete with the best of intentions as Jeffy, to cover the cost of a surgery for a fellow co-worker whom he was told to fire, but he just couldn’t do it.  Of course his uncle, portrayed by Brian Cox, has alternate aspirations as he’s using his nephew to fix the Special Olympics in order to cover all his debts.  Hell!  Even a priest gets in on the action.  I kid you not!

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However, once Johnny’s character does finally infiltrate the Special Olympics he finds himself in a world of hurt and in over his head.  LOL.  He actually finds the Special Olympics to be challenging.  That’s quite ironic don’t you think?  Here’s a guy born with every advantage over these kids and he’s out-skilled both physically and mentally.  And of course it doesn’t help that he also falls head over heels for a certain Special Olympics volunteer, played by Heigl, which constantly makes it difficult for him to maintain his cover because he so badly wants to be with her.  Are you getting a good idea at what’s at stake here and the conundrum of it all?  It’s a well-crafted story to say the least.  It has heart and believe it or not its intentions are good.

While The Ringer may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I can honestly say my feelings haven’t diminished for it over the years.  It’s still fresh to me and hits home with my prior experience of volunteering for the Special Olympics and assisting with the very games depicted within this feature.  It’s a raw behind-the-scenes look at the real people and who the athletes really are.  They are not depicted as saints.  Just like you and I, we all have our vices and evil ways of doing things.  These kids in the film aren’t that much different than you or I.  They too all have hopes and dreams.  And in the end, if you get this message and take it way from this one, these kids actually inspire us to be better human beings.  Yes, there is stereo typical humor in here, but lighten up.  It’s a comedy after all!  Let go and laugh a little for crying out loud!

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Video 

I’ll go on record by saying that for an older Fox catalog title things don’t look too shabby here.  I got a kick out of seeing all the televisions in this one, all being non-HD that is.

  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC @ 34 MBPS
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Clarity/Detail:  For an older catalog title the picture’s quite remarkably sharp at times.  You can clearly see the wrinkles on Johnny Knoxville’s face s well as the corduroy stripes on his ugly beige work jacket.  Heck!  Even the fabric on Johnny’s couch in his apartment s prevalent.  So while I wouldn’t say this is the best Blu-ray has to offer or that it’s razor-sharp, I really can’t imagine this one looking any better.
  • Depth:  The depth levels are pretty solid here too.  The characters are very three-dimensional from the backgrounds.  I like it!
  • Black Levels: The black levels are nothing to drop everything and write home about, but for the most part they’re pretty dark and inky throughout.  So I would call them decent.  How’s that?
  • Color Reproduction: Here’s where I really like things as well.  The colors, for the most part, are rich and vibrant throughout and keep the campy tone of the movie feeling well…campy!
  • Flesh Tones: I had no problems in this department either.  I did not notice any anomalies.  Everyone’s skin looked natural throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts:  I think I saw one lonely white speck in the very beginning, but other than that this presentation is flawless with only a thin veneer layer of grain present.

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Audio 

While the audio track isn’t as killer as the video presentation of this catalog title in my opinion, it’s still a very good one for a comedy of its age.  Let’s talk a little more in detail about it below.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics:  This one gets loud and rousing sometimes, especially during the Special Olympic track events.  It’s the music that really drives things home here.  However, the sound effects are all accurate and authentic too.
  • Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer remained active throughout the entire presentation, but really only came to life in those moments I just mentioned above or in scenes with knocks on a door or other shenanigans such as water balloon pranks, etc.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Like any other comedy of its era it suffers from being extremely front heavy, but that’s no fault of its own.  This is a comedy after all and this is to be expected!  The rear speakers come to life only very minimally in ambient surroundings such as in bar scenes or track and field events.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is the king here and rightfully so.  The vocals are all extremely loud, clear and intelligible throughout the entire feature.  Jeffy likes that!

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Extras 

Much to my surprise there are special features in this Blu-ray catalog release.  There’s not a whole lot, but there’s still some.  It would have been great to see a Digital Copy thrown in for good measure, but regardless I’m just happy to have The Ringer in my Blu-ray collection now.  That’s all that matters to me really.  So while I can babble on and on about things you don’t really care about what do you say we cut to the chase and discuss all the bonus supplements you’ll find here?  It will be easy!  There’s only three of them!

  • Commentary By Johnny Knoxville And The Creative Team – This selectable audio commentary track features the likes of Diretcor Barry W. Blaustein, Screenwriter Ricky Blitt, Producer Peter Farrelly and Actors Johnny Knoxville, Edward Barbanell and John Taylor talking over the film as it plays.
  • Let The Games Begin: A Look At The Ringer (HD, 7:07) – While this one is sharp like it was shot in HD, it’s presented within a 4:3 letterbox constraint.  This one features pretty much everyone from the producers and director to the cast and misc. crew.  You get to go behind the scenes of the shooting, which is kind of real special and touching here given the subject matter of the film, as well as see constant gag reels.  The highlight for me was seeing the Special Olympics onboard and supporting this film.  They said they asked Special Olympics athletes in Indiana what they thought of Knoxville being involved and they said it was perfect.  Why?  You’re going to love this.  They said that the same kids that pick on them watch Jack-Ass and if Johnny Knoxville says mentally challenged kids are cool, then they will follow what Johnny says and not make fun of them.  Isn’t that sweet?
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 19:00) – There are a total of 16 deleted scenes here, but I have to warn you the footage is pretty rough and beat up.  The scenes include the following in order: Bar Scene, Steve Flirts With Sarah, Handicapped Parking, Do You Party?, Karate Practice, Say Something Honest, Mark’s Rules, Movie Theater Lobby, David Tries To Bust Jeffy, Rise and Shine For The Big Day, Special Olympics Oath,  Winston’s Date Shows Up, Lynn Tells Joke to Jeffy, Nightmare, Sarah Recognizes Steven on TV and Steve Says Goodbye.

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Final 

And here we are.  We all crossed the proverbial finish line!  This is my favorite part of a Blu-ray review as it signifies the end of my writing for the day (although I have one more to go that I’ll finish tomorrow).  And guess what?  We’re all winners here today!  You not only get the chance to learn about a very special romantic comedy up above you might have missed out on in 2005, but best of all you get to bring it home today on the Blu-ray format!  So I hope you like what you read above and are ready to click below to bring The Ringer home on High-Definition Blu-ray today.  And last but not least if you feel compelled, make sure you support your local Special Olympics program by clicking here and find out what you can do to contribute and help by making the unassailable difference in their lives.  I’m going to do it!  This is Brian White signing off on professional Blu-ray review #177.  Have a good one!

The Ringer Blu-ray

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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