Ready to Rumble (2000)
READY TO RUMBLE
Review by Noel Wood
I see some bad movies. I mean, we all do, but in my quest to find material to write about I see more than the average person’s share of really bad ones. And I’m not talking stuff that in actuality sucks but that a lot of people take seriously and goes on to win awards (*coughabeautifulmindcough*), but stuff that universally sucks. Stuff like READY TO RUMBLE.
Seriously, this may be the worst movie I’ve ever had the dubious honor of having seen. There’s a multifaceted reason behind this, going far beyond the usual underlying hatred for bad comedies. You see, I’m a pro wrestling fan. Yes, I just outed myself. I’ve watched it since I was a little kid, and while a lot of people gave up on it along with their toy collections when they hit puberty, I never quite did. I was a closet watcher for a decade or more, refusing to admit that I ever laid my eyes on the stuff, but in actuality I was glued to my television every Monday night for Prime Time Wrestling and later Monday Night RAW. Some years later, wrestling became “hip” again with the New World Order and Stone Cold Steve Austin leading the charge. All my friends were into it all over again, and acting like they were the most hardcore fans there ever were. Occasionally they’d say mention some really asinine rumor that they read off of some internet website and I’d shoot it down, filling them in on the real goings-on in the sport. Suddenly, my wrestling knowledge was one of my selling points instead of something to shun me with. Of course, that’s neither here nor there.
The point of this all is that while I am the first to step up and acknowledge the actual hard work and athleticism that goes into the wrestling business, I also know Pro Wrestling can be cheesy as all getout too. But when things come along that exploit only that ugly aspect of Wrestling, especially things that are fully supported by a major player in the industry itself, I take it as a personal affront as a lifelong fan. Of course, READY TO RUMBLE did just that, and did it with the aid of the former number one wrestling company on the planet, World Championship Wrestling.
Months before this film was released, a script leaked out. I got to see bits and pieces of it, but certain people in the biz who actually got to read the whole thing made sure to explain that it was one of the worst scripts they ever saw get a greenlight by a major studio. I figured there was no way it could be that bad, but was only being described that way per usual by the typical mainstream entertainment journalist who holds Pro Wrestling on the same level as I hold Carrot Top’s artistic merit. Of course, when the movie started being promoted, I started to wonder whether or not they might just be right this time. And some months later when I finally used one of my free rental coupons to break down and rent it, I realized, for once, they were right. This was indeed the worst movie ever made.
Alongside such WCW giants as Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Bill Goldberg, and Sting, this movie stars Scott Caan and David Arquette as Sean and Gordie, two wrestling fans that take their sport way too seriously. When their favorite wrestler, Jimmy King (who couldn’t possibly be a play on wrestler-turned-thespian Jerry “The King” Lawler, could he?), is sent packing by evil promoter Titus Sinclair (They can’t possibly be parodying Vince McMahon, right?) the two decide they’re gonna do something about it. They meet up with King and begin to help him train for his big comeback match against the man that helped screw him out of his Heavyweight Championship, actual WCW wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.
…and there’s your plot for you. Not only does this movie feature the aforementioned pro wrestlers and the apparently shameless Caan and Arquette on board, it will amaze you at the other talent it manages to amass. King is played by none other than Oliver Platt, who while has not proven he’s incapable of making a bad movie here and there, is way too good to be relegated to stuff like this. Sinclair is portrayed by none other than Joe Pantoliano, of MEMENTO and The Sopranos fame, one of the finest character actors of the modern era. Even Oscar Winner Martin Landau gets in on the gig as an old retired grappler named Sal Bendini. Rose McGowan’s also in this movie, but she doesn’t get naked, so it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Like I said, the real reason I hate this movie is because it’s backed by a major wrestling company, and yet purposefull paints wrestling in such a bad light. Gordie and Sean are intended to be the stereotypical wrestling fan, and they’re both about as dumb as a box of rocks. They work as septic tank pumpers, and are absolutely obsessed with the wrestling business. On top of that, they think it’s as real as anything else out there. When they learn of the fate of their hero, they’re so distraught that they crash their sewer truck. Poop jokes ensue. Gordie and Sean aren’t exactly Bill and Ted. They ain’t Wayne and Garth. Hell, they ain’t even Jesse and Chester from DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR. The’re not far from Beavis and Butthead, but without being, you know, funny.
Oh yeah, in this movie, the wrestling isn’t even really supposed to be fake. The design of the film was supposed to be to promote WCW, but it wound up parodying them in the long run. It’s like this big fat fuck you to the business by one of its major players, and it’s no suprise that WCW was out of business within a year of the release of this film.
Brian Robbins helmed this unentertaining piece of poodoo. For those who don’t know who he is, think “guy in the leather jacket from Head of the Class.” He’s also the schmuck who brought us such classics as GOOD BURGER and VARSITY BLUES, and later the Keanu Reeves-starring Bad News Bears wannabe HARD BALL. We can thank him for a string of the worst of the worst crap, most of which was done to promote some cable television network (BLUES was for MTV, BURGER for Nickelodeon, and RUMBLE for Turner Network.)
When people ask why I am a wrestling fan, I’ll show them a 20-minute match between Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle or one of the classic skits featuring Mick Foley and Steve Austin. But when they ask what makes me ashamed of it, this movie is generally on the top of my list. Really, even seeing some cameos by some of the most talented workers in the wrestling biz couldn’t save this steaming pile of dung from stinking up my apartment for days after I viewed it. I think I popped a head cleaner in the VCR right afterward, it was that bad.