Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie with Abe: Knucklehead

Directed by Michael Watkins
Released October 22, 2010

Often in a movie that doesn’t really work, it’s not difficult to pinpoint one or two factors that have impeded it from achieving greatness, or even mediocrity, whichever the case may be. Then, there are a few cases where absolutely nothing works, and it’s hard to believe that anyone thought producing such a project would be a good idea. The award for the most fitting title for a failure of a film goes to “Knucklehead,” which applies not only to its moronic characters but also to all of the people behind the scenes involved in the making of this film.

Director Michael Watkins has extensive television experience as both a cinematographer and a director, and “Knucklehead” is one of his first feature films (the other, “Circle,” was released on DVD this summer and looks terrible). Watkins has also worked with star Mark Feuerstein before, and helped make the generally unimpressive and unenthusiastic performer come alive on “Royal Pains.” In this feature, however, the pairing isn’t anywhere near as productive (destructive would be a more accurate term). Feuerstein is back to his wooden self, and his casting as a wannabe boxing trainer is laughable. Tragically, that’s hardly the most lamentable casting choice in the film.

“Knucklehead” is a WWE Studios production. As a result, wrestler Paul Wight, known in the ring as Big Show, stars as a man-baby named Walter Kronk who grew up in an orphanage and was never adopted, so he still works there as a cook and goofy friend to the next generation of orphans. The 7-foot-tall Wight is purposely made up to look like he’s not tough before his radical transformation into a force to be reckoned with, or at least to be gawked at due to his height and sheer destructive power, used mostly by accident. Also regrettably spottable in the cast are Wendie Malick, Melora Hardin, also known as Jan on “The Office,” Dennis Farina, eternal anger-prone gangster, and Rebecca Creskoff, who is fantastic on “Hung” and shouldn’t tell anyone that she made this film.

It’s extraordinarily puzzling to discern just what audience this film is trying to attract. It’s full of fart jokes, childish dialogue, and stupid scenarios, yet it’s rated PG-13. Kronk’s journey to fighting superstardom includes a stop at an underground Hassidic boxing ring, a literal fight against a bear, and plenty of other mishaps and incoherent interactions. It’s a story that seems aimed at five-year-olds, yet parents are supposed to caution their children against going to see it if they’re under 13. If it isn’t clear from this review, parents should caution their children, their friends, and anyone they’ve ever met from seeing this film due entirely to its deplorable quality.


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