Ready to Rumble

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Bob Smithouser

Movie Review

Clues that you’re watching a shamelessly puerile comedy: 1) The sweet little old lady who curses like a sailor; 2) Frequent kicks to the groin; 3) Crass jokes that cover every bodily function and sexual organ known to man. The bawdy Ready to Rumble has them all.

Die-hard wrestling fans Gordie (Arquette) and Sean (Caan) pump septic tanks when they’re not worshiping long-time WCW champ Jimmy King (Platt). The duo even wears homemade WWKD (What Would King Do?) bracelets. So when the league sets King up for an unceremonious exit from the ring, his loyal subjects track him down and convince the boorish drunkard to fight back and reclaim his belt.

Cameos by actual pro wrestlers make Rumble feel like a promotional video for WCW Monday Nitro. Aimed at the same preadolescent boys who’ve made that one-ring circus a coveted prime-time empire, the movie will offend most everyone else.

Full of profanity and gross-out humor, the film glamorizes violence in and out of the ring. The camera leers at barely-clad “Nitro Girls.” Parents are mocked. Religion is trivialized (Sean and Gordie lead a group of nuns in Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil”). And coming from the director of Varsity Blues, it’s no shock to find instances of casual sex and alcohol use.

In one scene, WCW’s evil owner brags about influencing young fans’ loyalties: “I’ll tell you about these kids—they’re morons. They love who I tell them to love.” It’s clearly an opinion shared by Warner Bros., which made this exploitative mess.

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Bob Smithouser