This week’s column celebrates the opening of Action Point (and my interview with Johnny Knoxville) with a trio of non-Jackass related titles. All three available for rent on Amazon.
Trailer for The Ringer
The Ringer (2005)
After Jackass: The Movie hit big, Knoxville went to work, determined to be the first of his troop of addlepated daredevils to become a household name. And after he lent strong support to several features, The Ringer was poised to prove to the world his ability to carry a narrative comedy. In it, a gangster (Brian Cox) convinces his debt-ridden nephew (Knoxville) to go undercover and rig the Special Olympics. Before you start shaking your head: the production was made with the organization’s blessing, and those who’ve seen it invariably walk away, if not impressed, then at least not offended. By its very nature, Jackass had no room for pathos, yet the biggest reveal in The Ringer is Knoxville’s ability to handle the sentiment, a trait that would later prove useful in Skiptrace. But this was hardly the place for romantic complications, as evidenced by the flirtation struck between our Special Olympian impersonator and his comely tournament organizer (Katherine Heigl). Fairy tale intrigue notwithstanding, a steady stream of laughs await.
Trailer for Fun Size
Fun Size (2012)
Here’s one that seeks out and encourages insensitive behavior in its viewers. Instead of going to a hot boy’s Halloween party, Wren (Victoria Justice) is ordered to take her 8-year-old, bonbon-eating bon vivant brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll, the brawny tyke who would later appear opposite Knoxville in Bad Grandpa) trick or treating. Knoxville’s cameo as a jackass with a blond mullet makes his work in The Ringer look like something out of Chekov. And speaking of Tony C., fans of Russian drama won’t leave hungry: if in the second act you have an Asian nerd dressed as Aaron Burr and carrying a loaded musket, then in the following one it should be fired. Produced by Nickelodeon Films, this politically incorrect teen comedy — as close to an R-rating as PG-13 gets — couldn’t possibly air unedited on its parent cable channel. That probably accounts for why I frequently caught myself laughing out loud.
Trailer for Skiptrace
A gambling cheat (Knoxville), banned from playing in American casinos, helps a sadder and wiser Hong Kong cop (Jackie Chan) hunt down a mob boss who operates under the pseudonym The Matador. When shrill joke-spinner Chris Tucker teamed with Chan, their poles-apart combination made such a worldwide splash that it spawned a pair of well-paying sequels. When professional tumbler/tummler Johnny met Jackie, the pairing barely saw the arclight of day in American multiplexes. Too bad, because I’ll take this over all the Rush Hour pictures combined. And don’t forget the long dormant director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cutthroat Island), hoping this might be his big comeback. Chan wrote the story, and though it’s admittedly not an example of the director or either actor in their prime, the avalanche gags and a posteriori stunt work — an encounter between Chan and a Russian nesting doll had me reaching for the remote to hit rewind — make for a rollicking good time.