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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review
Ready to Rumble (2000)

Directed by Brian Robbins
Cast: Scott Caan, David Arquette, Oliver Platt, Richard Lineback, Rose McGowan, Martin Landau, Bill Goldberg, Joe Pantoliano, Diamond Dallas Page, Caroline Rhea, Ellen Albertini Dow, Kathleen Freeman, Chris Owen, Steve 'Sting' Borden.
2000 – 107 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for profanity, violence, brief nudity, and sexual situations).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 8, 2000.

The quality (or lack thereof) of "Ready to Rumble," an atrociously ill-advised comedy directed by Brian Robbins (1999's "Varsity Blues"), can be boiled down to one statement: take "Dumb & Dumber," add a wrestling angle to the storyline, and strip the proceedings of all signs of wit, interest, and laughs.

Gordie (David Arquette) and Sean (Scott Caan) are lifelong best friends whose IQs are well into the lower double-digits, and who clean out septic tanks and port-a-potties for a living. Their lives revolve solely around two things: sewage and WCW wrestling, particularly their obsessive loyalty to their undefeated hero, Jimmy King (Oliver Platt). When the infamous (to them) Monday Night Nitro arrives in their small Wyoming town, Gordie and Sean eagerly are able to acquire tickets, but devastated when the King, for the first time, is defeated by Diamond Dallas Page (playing himself), and thus, gets his title of WCW Wrestler of the World taken away from him. Tracking the King down, Gordie and Sean find him holed up in a trailer park, almost penniless and boozed up into a drunken stupor. Their image of him remains untarnished, however, as their faithfulness overcomes the discouragingly troubled human being in front of them, and they persuade the King to attempt a comeback.

"Ready to Rumble" is the type of nonsensical movie that one watches with a detached air in between them and the screen, until the moment when they question how something of such incredible vacuity was ever greenlit by the studio. The moment came for me during a dream sequence involving Gordie beating up the insulting worker of a convenience store. That moment was also, calamitously, at the five-minute mark of this overlong, 107-minute waste of celluloid. With nary a trace of clever writing or original subject matter for its so-called jokes, the film relies heavily on the needless exploitation of profanity-spewing women (including the charming Ellen Albertini Dow, the rappin' granny in 1998's "The Wedding Singer") and humor involving sewage, flatulence, and, well, there's a lot of sewage pratfalls. The only scene worth a deserved laugh is one in which Gordie and Sean hitch a ride with a van full of "Hallelujah"-singing nuns who, before long, are being taught the lyrics to "Shout at the Devil."

>From David Arquette to Scott Caan to Oliver Platt to Academy Award winner Martin Landau (as a retired wrestler who Gordie and Sean turn to for help in shaping up the King), what were these usually reliable actors thinking when they chose to participate in the making of such a film? Arquette, who is in great need of a barbituates overdose, hoots and hollers a lot, but does little else, while Scott Caan seems to be grinning and bearing his appearance here. Oddly enough, Oliver Platt is just about the least likely person to ever become a professional wrestler, and his casting is more of a stunt than anything; surely, a real-life wrestler would have fit this unfunny, straight-man role far more snugly, rather than a comedian who is given little chance to do anything other than look disgruntled.

Once in an interview, actress Rose McGowan stated that she knew what a talented actress she could be, given the right material. There is no doubt that she can be good--just check out her standout performances in 1995's "The Doom Generation" and 1996's "Scream"--but, if so, then why is she wasting her time in such a disposable role, as Sasha, a scheming Nitro girl who has a fling with Gordie?

Thinking back of "Ready to Rumble," I am left with few words to describe the viewing experience, because it disparagingly leaves you with so little to think about or take away. There are amusing low-brow comedies (1980's "Airplane!," anything from the Farrelly brothers--heck, even 1996's "Happy Gilmore"), and then there are movies like "Ready to Rumble," that amaze you with their sheer stupidity and unwillingness to create anything that is the least bit worthy of wasting two hours of your life with.

©2000 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman