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The Ringer

Johnny Knoxville stars as Steve Barker, a corporate drone who asks his boss for a promotion, gets one, and in his first order of business has to fire the janitor Stavi , played by Luis Avalos. Steve can’t bring himself to do it, so he gets Stavi to quit instead and work for him mowing lawns. After an accident costs Stavi three of his fingers, Steve needs a whole mess of cash in a hurry in order to pay for an operation, so he hits up his Uncle Gary, played by the ever brilliant Brian Cox. Unfortunately Uncle Gary is a bit short on cash as well, not to mention that he’s getting squeezed by a bookie for even more money than Steve needs. After seeing a bit on TV, Gary gets the brilliant idea to enter Steve in the Special Olympics, thinking he’d run all over them. Steve is reluctant, but the urgency of Stavi’s situation pushes him to do the unthinkable.

What neither Steve nor Gary was expecting was that the Special Olympic athletes were a lot smarter than they expected, not to mention much more athletic. The Olympians instantly realize that this guy “Jeffy” is a fake, but instead of ratting him out, they actually help Steve train to win it all. Their reason: the winner of the Olympics for the last six years is an arrogant punk named Jimmy, played by real life Special Olympian Leonard Flowers, and the gang wants to see him go down. Steve is more than eager to play along, as long as it keeps him close to Special Olympics volunteer Lynn, played by Katherine Heigl.

Picking the story structure apart is a waste of time and energy; of course the setup is going to be exactly what you think it will be, with the tryouts, the meet cute, the Awful Truth, the training sequence, the final showdown, and the moment where the impostor comes clean. They follow that pretty much step by step (the ending does have one very pleasant surprise), but that’s hardly the point. No one sees “The Ringer”.

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