" "Ready to Rumble," a comedy starring David Arquette and featuring World Championship Wrestling will not take many people by surprise. The film is filled with low-brow humor but is good for more than a few laughs. The wrestling action is actually fairly exciting, and will remind present and past fans of wrestling what they liked about it, particularly for those who grew up watching the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Randy "Macho Man" Savage (who has a small part in the film) every weekend. "Ready to Rumble," directed by Brian Robbins, the director of "Varsity Blues" is a film about two spirited individuals who are drawn by a noble calling to help a "fallen" hero on his quest for personal redemption. The film follows Gordie (played by David Arquette) and Sean (Scott Caan), two rabid wrestling fans who are obsessed with the reigning king of wrestling, Jimmy King, played with elan by the always enjoyable Oliver Platt. Gordie and Sean make a pilgrimage to find King after he is ambushed, and try to help him on his journey back to greatness.
While the recently released "Beyond the Mat" gave viewers an unflinching insight into the world of professional wrestling from behind the scenes, showing the injuries which are regularly incurred, the difficulties of attaining stardom in wrestling, and what happens to wrestlers after they begin to lose popularity and get older; "Ready to Rumble" really captures the glamour and excitement of the wrestling world. While the viewer is taken "behind the scenes," those who are bad guys in the ring are just as bad outside of it. The film does examine the less than glamorous life of Jimmy King outside of the ring, but most of the scenes featuring WCW wrestlers show them in all their squared-circle glory.
The film is also bolstered by some memorable individual performances as well, particularly that of Martin Landau as Sal Bandini, an "old school" wrestler who tries to coach Jimmy King. Landau, a respected actor with decades of impressive work and an Oscar to his credit, does a great job playing the wiley, over-the-top wrestler. Although his role is a relatively small one, it adds a lot to the film. Also, Joe Pantaliano, (formerly in "The Matrix," "Bound" and "The Fugitive") plays the bad guy well, playing the evil wrestling tycoon who orchestrates the dethroning of Jimmy King and who seeks to keep King from coming back into wrestling. Finally, the WCW wrestlers, themselves add a lot to the film. Fans of WCW wrestling will absolutely love this film, which features Diamond Dallas Page, Bill Goldberg, Booker T, Sting, Sid Vicious, "Bam Bam" Bigelow, and many others. Both "DDP" and Goldberg have relatively larger roles and are a lot of fun to watch in their roles. Finally, the film features Rose McGowan as the head Nitro Girl and the object of Gordie's desire.
As stated above, much of the first half of the film is peppered with low-brow humor. Gordie and Sean work for a refuse removal company, and there is a great amount of bathroom humor involved. As the film progresses, it focuses more on the wrestling. The film never reaches a level of being "cerebral" but is generally fun throughout. The wrestling seems about as real as it does in the actual ring, and the climactic battle in a gasp! Triple Cage match! is genuinely exciting and enjoyable.
Obviously, this film is not for everyone. A potential viewer should have a fairly good idea as to whether or not they would enjoy this film. The film does deliver its fair share of laughs and is genuinely fun and exciting at times, and is worth at least a rent from anyone who thinks they might enjoy the film.
Ready to Rumble is presented in "matted" widescreen format and is enhanced for widescreen TV's. The digital transfer is a good one, and the picture looks particularly good during the wrestling sequences. The skin-tones of the film appear quite accurate, and there are few, if any imperfections in the print.
Ready to Rumble is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The sound is fairly clear throughout the film, particularly the film's dialogue. The early wrestling sequences sound as if the sound was added later, as there is surprisingly little background noise during the match. Nevertheless, the sound is generally good and there are few reasons to adjust the volume for any reason. The dialogue, music and sound effects come through rather clearly.
The DVD contains a variety of bonus materials, including a feature-length cast commentary, the music video for Bif Naked's version of the Twisted Sister Classic "We're Not Gonna Take It," short, up-close interviews with the individual WCW Nitro Girls and WCW wrestlers Bam Bam Bigelow and Diamond Dallas Page, a short behind-the-scenes segment showing Scott Caan and David Arquette trying out a few wrestling moves, and short cast and crew biographies.
The cast commentary- This feature length commentary features Scott Caan, David Arquette, and Ahmet Zappa, who is in three scenes in the film. While, a few times during the commentary, Caan and Arquette are genuinely funny, the presence of Ahmet Zappa, with an extremely small role is somewhat inexplicable. He adds little to the commentary and few, if any laughs. Arquette and Caan range from belching and eating cornnuts, to joking about where the film was actually shot, to actually providing insight into the making of the film. While Caan and Arquette seem to have a great time while doing the commentary, there bright spots of the commentary are sufficiently few and far between that the viewer should question whether or not to commit the time to listen to the commentary. It does not provide vastly more insight into the film or its creative process, and is good for a laugh, but the viewer will have to endure portions of the commentary when the actors just try to remember their lines as they come up in the film.
The Music Video- Bif Naked' s version of "Were Not Gonna Take It" is a fairly entertaining music video, placing the band in the middle of a scene from the movie. Their version of the song is a pretty good one- the music retains its heaviness and the female lead singer keeps a lot of the original growl of the song.
Up Close with the Nitro Girls- The DVD contains two minute interviews with six of the WCW Nitro girls. In each interview, the featured Nitro girl discusses her background and how she became affiliated with the Nitro girls. Each interview basically allows the viewer to get to know who each Nitro girl is, and little else. Similarly, the interviews with Bigelow and Page are also quite short, however each wrestler speaks a bit about their acting experiences and their involvement with the movie. While each is interesting, the interviews are not long enough to really give the viewer much.
Finally, the "No Holds Barred" segment features Caan and Arquette trying out a few wrestling moves on each other and a fake fight. While it suggests either the ease with which such moves are accomplished, or the great training which Caan and Arquette undertook to make this movie, it is relatively short and not all that exciting or impressive.
While this film, like wrestling itself, is a bit of a guilty pleasure, those in the mood for such a film should definitely check out "Ready to Rumble." While the film starts a bit weakly, it picks up a great amount in the second half and is genuinely exciting and enjoyable. For those who would otherwise avoid both wrestling and David Arquette films, such viewers might want to avoid this one too. Otherwise, it is a fun, enjoyable movie, with more than a few laughs and an funny and fairly nostalgic view of wrestling. Check it out!