I tend not to start articles off with a sigh, but if I was going to start it in this manner then it would be with a WWE Studios movie. Unfortunately for them their hit/miss ratio is skewered towards the latter rather than the former. See No Evil was fun because it followed the slasher movie elements to the letter, but it is a one watch affair while movies like The Marine and The Condemned are fun enough, but never really go the distance. And these are the good ones! The remaining films are either sequels to their original hits or films which crowbar in their hot WWE wrestling star of the year. The films they finance with other companies seem to come off slightly better (Scooby-Doo: Wrestlemania Mystery has to be seen to be believed), but when left to their own devices the WWE team go out of control. Knucklehead is no exception.
The plot is a mish-mash of other movies and though it works in presenting a story it never really breaks through to a significantly satisfying conclusion. Con man and all round hustler Eddie Sullivan is in for 20g’s with Memphis Earl, an all round bad guy. Eddie is in the MMA business (or Mixed Martial Arts to the uninitiated) and needs to get a win over Memphis’s champion to pay off his debts. After Eddie’s new fighter gets taken out he is in desperate need of a new one or he may need new legs after Memphis and his fighter are done with him. Enter Walter a huge simpleton / friendly giant whose been living in an nun run orphanage all his life. When a mishap in the kitchen causes a huge fire it seems the orphanage may have to shut down. That is until Eddie comes in to the picture. Seeing the quite literally huge potential in Walter he takes him on board and tours him around the country in preparation for the big MMA tournament. Keeping Eddie in check and making sure Walter is okay is Mary, one of Walters only adult friends in the orphanage. With three groups needing the money and Memphis ready to pull some pretty nasty tricks in order to get it will Walter be able to man up and win the price?
There are so many elements to this movie which can be picked out from other films. At the start with the road trip angle it felt like the Stallone arm wrestling movie Over the Top, while in other instances it plays out like any old Adam Sandler movie. It also feels a lot like Nacho Libre, the Jack Black Mexican wrestling flick. The problem is that none of the elements really gel together well enough to make it entertaining. It uses excessive bodily function jokes to try to get the audience on board, but ironically the overuse of this actually causes boredom rather than frolics. There is an art to this type of humour with Matt Stone and Trey Parker been superb at it. The frequent jokes about Walter’s guts been messed up and him almost farting himself to death get old really quick. There is one scene in a crowded bus where this bowel emptying occurs and Walter is so big he can hardly get his ass in the loo. The pained look on his face while the bus users almost throw up is meant to be the big joke in this scene, but poor Walter’s pained face actually turns it into a tragedy of sorts. The problems thrown up at our group to distract them from their mission never seem to be perilous enough. My wife and I kept forgetting what had happened to the group because none of the scenes warranted sticking in our heads long enough to remember them! Their car blows up and they just get a lift from a lonely (and possibly gay) trucker who pees in a jar. Walter does not look hard enough, he gets a makeover. Even when Walter’s useless child friend Henry gets added into the mix it still feels like everything will be okay. This is a film where Eddie’s dad gets beaten up and put in hospital but still has time to get his jollies off by having a sponge bath!
The acting however is actually pretty good. Henry (played by Kurt Doss) messes everything up in the story arc and causes Walter all the problems, but he does what he needs to do. Sister Francesca (Wendie Malick) plays the part of the ball buster nun with a heart well enough to. Even though Will Patton turns up to get his pay check as Eddie’s father he is still fun to watch. Eddie Sullivan (Mark Feuerstein) is fun to and keeps the film going while Mary (Melora Hardin or the boss from The American Office) tries her best with what little she has to do and does it well. Now you would expect Paul Wight to be the big problem here, being a wrestler and this been his big starring role and all. But in his defence he tries his hardest to act the hell out of his roll. The script makes him a bumbling idiot who has to drop his pants and look stupid all the way through the movie, but you can just tell Paul is working with and doing the best he can with the script. So bravo Big Show at least you tried to add some emotion to this movie.
The film has many faults which ultimately stop it from been entertaining. Repetition of body humour jokes that were not that funny in the first place, uninteresting wrestling bouts, wasted characters (Memphis played by Dennis Farina could have easily been better utilised as could many of the bit part stars in this), no sense of threat and above all else the fact the film is just not funny really stops it in its tracks. Now I know this is meant to be family entertainment and I also know that this was never intending to win any Oscars. But all that aside the film becomes a bore very early on and there is no greater sin than a film that does not entertain. Also when you do not care about the characters because you know nothing bad is going to happen to them it puts you off following them on their journey, no matter how mudane that journey is. A friend of mine on Facebook said that this is like an Adam Sandler film with less subtlety and that pretty much sums it all up.
Knucklehead (2010) is available on DVD (Region 2) from Amazon.co.uk; and if you decide to make a purchase after following this link you will have supported Attack From Planet B, so thank you.