Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:45 - Released 4/7/00

Every week, I go to the theater bright eyed and bushy tailed, sure that no film I see can be as bad as the one I saw the previous week. And then every week, my faith in the pathetic depths of which Hollowood is capable is vigorously rejuvenated. Ready To Rumble, a film written by Steven Brill (Mighty Ducks) and directed by Brian Robbins (Varsity Blues), has got to be the worst yet to arrive in 2000. I can find no redeeming qualities in this senseless waste of celluloid, except perhaps that it makes fun of so-called professional wrestling, a sport that hardly needs any outside forces to make fun of it — it's a self-parody as it is. But the film is written, directed, produced, and performed just as badly as any WCW match one would care to mention, so rather than providing a biting satire of the sport, it simply adds another dimension to pro wrestling's dubious legacy. Why such distinguished actors as Oliver Platt and Martin Landau would choose to be associated with such third-rate trash is beyond me.

In a way similar to last year's amusing Detroit Rock City, which focused on a group of KISS fans making their way to a concert to see their favorite band, Rumble addresses pro wrestling from the viewpoint of a pair of rabid devotees, outhouse cleaners Gordie Boggs (David Arquette) and Sean Dawkins (Scott Caan). At the start, they score tickets to see their favorite character, Jimmy King (Platt), the ruler of the ring, go up against Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkinburg). Platt's portrayal of King is basically Elvis in trunks. But Gordie and Sean are out of luck, because Titus Sinclair (Joe Pantoliano), the all-powerful promoter, has decided that tonight is the night the king will be dethroned. After a brutal (not to mention unfair) beating by several colleagues, his majesty is finished. But Gordie and Sean, who believe everything they see in the ring, are convinced that Jimmy can come back, and they track him to his beer-soaked trailer to tell him so. After a pep talk and some gratuitous violence, the illiterate monarch is convinced. The three friends make their way back to the ring to avenge the king's loss.

This film relies wholly on potty humor (literally) and Three Stooges-style violence to get laughs. There's certainly nothing even reminiscent of intelligent humor in the dialogue. Whenever the characters are not in the ring, hitting each other over the heads with folding chairs, then they're swimming in raw sewage, ogling girls' boobs (Rose McGowan), and kicking each other in the crotch. In fact, there's so much crotch kicking that many outtakes of it are presented during the closing credits, as if more is better. There are notable appearances by some real-life pro wrestlers (primarily Bill Goldberg), and Landau portrays an ex-pro who acts as trainer and guru for the reticent King's comeback. His wild-eyed portrayal is mildly amusing on occasion, but I am baffled as to why he would sink to such depths. *

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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