A scene from 'Ready To Rumble'
Courtesy Photo
*1/2 stars 100 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, April 7, 2000
Directed by Brian Robbins

Starring David Arquette, Scott Caan, Oliver Platt, Rose McGowan, Joe Pantoliano, Martin Landau, Caroline Rhea, Page Falkinberg & Bill Goldberg


Serious wait-for-cable material, even for the most dim-witted of wrestling fans.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 09/19/2000


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Doltish fans try to revive pro wrestler's career in dimwitted comedy 'Ready To Rumble'

By Rob Blackwelder

David Arquette's escaped-lunitic-on-a-double-espresso style of nitwit comedy is an aquired taste. Or at least I assume it is since I don't find him funny but movie directors continue to cast him and AT&T saw fit to make them their collect-calling spokesman.

He's a one-note Jim Carrey wannabe with a Jerry Lewis IQ and two facial expressions: Half-asleep stoner and vein-popping screaming mimi. He's also a front-runner for Least Convincing Actor Alive, as he frequently seems to be looking desperately toward the camera for approval of over-the-top his antics.

David Arquette is also the star of "Ready To Rumble," a slow-pitch comedy about professional wrestling fans, seemingly made for some niche market of moviegoers that find Pauly Shore pictures too intellectually taxing.

Arquette and Scott Caan (son of James Caan) play Wyoming septic tank cleaners whose lives revolve around their worship of Jimmy King (Oliver Platt), the wholly manufactured champ of World Championship Wrestling.

Completely in denial about the staged nature of their favorite "sport," these two yokels attend a big WCW event in Cheyenne, only to see their hero defeated and disgraced in the ring by his former tag-team partner -- on orders of his vile manager (Joe Pantoliano) who has had it with King's primadonna posturing.

Resolved to help their role model regain his belt they set out on a crusade to bring him back to the ring, only to find King living life as a drunk in a dilapitated Winnebego. But that doesn't stop them from attempting to engineer his comeback.

Directed by Brian Robbins, "Ready To Rumble" is a sloppy, obvious movie, grasping desperately at the thinnest venier of comedy (an aged Martin Landau as a trainer, saying "Who's your daddy, bitch?" to a 280-pound wrestler he has in a headlock) and milking any good gags for twice as long as they're actually funny.

To prevent the plot from collapsing completely, the script insists that -- just in the case of King's attempted comeback -- wrestling really isn't fake. Otherwise there would be no suspense in the violent, climactic cage match.

Robbins definately got one thing right: The casting. While I can't stomach Arquette myself, if you're looking for someone to play an imbecile wrestling disciple, he's your guy. Plus, the paunchy and doughy Platt ("Lake Placid," "Bulworth") -- a funny and versitile actor -- is a perfect pick to add an extra touch of comedy as an ironically slothful pro wrestler.

Unfortunately, he clearly isn't into it. Instead of exploiting his anomalous casting for its intended belly laughs, he's wildly inconsistant, barely going through the motions of reading his lines and visibly regretful of signing on to such a bottom-feeder flick.

Then there's Laudau's cameo and Caroline Rhea (one of the aunts on "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch") as King's porky, swamp hick wife, and Pantoliano ("The Matrix"), ideal as the the greedy greaseball wrestling manager.

But while "Ready To Rumble" is meant to be idiotic, it badly overshoots its goal. Arquette and Caan don't even make amusing idiots, and instead of laughing at the them, Robbins assumes the audience is just as dumb as they are, and therefore makes little effort to turn his film into anything but the most base of comedies.

Maybe Robbins is right. Maybe he made this movie just for wrestling fans who think Monday Nitro matches are as real as Monday Night Football.

But as deliberately dumb comedies go, even Jerry Lewis made better movies than this.

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