Ready To Rumble

on April 07, 2000 by Annlee Ellingson
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   As professional wrestling continues to rise in popularity, it's only natural that the athletes segue into moviemaking. World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) Bill Goldberg appeared in "Universal Solder: The Return," the World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) Edge will be in the next "Highlander" sequel and the WWF's The Rock will be playing a villain in "The Mummy 2." The WCW wanted to be the first of the wrestling franchises to authorize a major motion picture, however, rushing "Ready to Rumble" into production--and it shows.

   Gordie (David Arquette) and Sean (Scott Caan) are two small-town Wyoming ne'er-do-wells whose lives are consumed with professional wrestling. They think their dreams have come true when the WCW comes to Cheyenne, and they're able to see their hero, Jimmy King (Oliver Platt), continue his undefeated streak in person. Instead, the evening turns into a nightmare as Diamond Dallas Page, tired of King's ego, takes him out with the help of his cronies in an ambush sanctioned by the powers that be.

   On the way home from the match, Sean crashes the sewage tanker his dad left him when he died, effectively calling a halt to his and Gordie's days cleaning porta-potties. They take it as a sign, hitchhiking to Atlanta to find their King and help him climb his throne once again.

   Although it's difficult to imagine Platt holding his own against real-life wrestlers like Page, he's actually well-cast here as an irresponsible, drunken, dirt-poor wrestler whose life resembles the toilets his two biggest fans used to clean. Arquette and Caan, however, aren't given much to work with, relying on toilet humor--literally--for laughs.

   Nor are their motivations clear. Gordie, who's harassed by his father throughout the movie to follow in his footsteps and become a cop, suddenly decides near the end that Dad's right, abandoning his quest to crown King. And if King's such an egomaniacal jerk, why do the WCW's babyfaces (that's wrestling lingo for good guys) rally behind him? Also, while the sport's fans will surely relish in Goldberg's and Sting's cameos, the filmmakers fail to build them up as the superstars they are.

   Although much of the action takes place outside the ring, the main focus here, of course, is the actual wrestling, which is made even more dramatic through the use of slow motion and replay. King's ultimate confrontation with Page, in a three-tiered steel cage, is suitably climactic but really just makes one want to see something like that in real life--well, on WCW's Monday Night Nitro, at least.    Starring David Arquette, Oliver Platt, Scott Caan and Rose McGowan. Directed by Brian Robbins. Written by Steven Brill. Produced by Bobby Newmyer and Jeffrey Silver. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language, crude humor, sexual content including brief nudity and wrestling violence. Running time: 107 min.

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