Jackass star Johnny Knoxville leading a comedy produced by the Farrelly brothers hardly promises sensitivity or subtlety, so plenty of people were wary when The Ringer was first announced.
Knoxville plays Steve Barker, who finds himself forced to come up with a quickfire solution to find money after his friend loses several fingers in an accident, while his uncle racks up huge gambling debts. Naturally, he decides to rig the Special Olympics and use his presumed advantage to secure a series of comfortable victories, but the competition is tougher than he ever expected.
As you’d imagine, some people were furious about The Ringer‘s existence, even though it had spent seven years in development and didn’t enter production until it had been approved by the Special Olympics Committee, while the Farrellys are longtime volunteers with the Best Buddies group, who provide mentor programs for people with intellectual disabilities.
In the end, The Ringer was completely harmless, landing a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score and earning $40 million at the box office. All of the potential controversy quickly forgotten about when naysayers realized the disabled community weren’t being mocked, but praised and portrayed as hugely determined and talented individuals that are more than a match for the duplicitous scheme cooked up by Knoxville’s character. The movie is now enjoying a second lease of life on Hulu, having cracked the platform’s Top 10 most-watched list, as per FlixPatrol.