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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Little-Late Film Review: Knucklehead

Knucklehead (2010, WWE Studios); Photo:
So, when a movie opens with a logo that reads “WWE Studios” while playing flighty music reminiscent of a 90s comedy starring Chris Farley, it‘s bound to be bad.  The credits begin to roll and it’s actually downhill from there.  Knucklehead is a poorly-directed, unfunny, but ultimately harmless comedy starring WWE star Paul Wight (The Big Show) as Walter Krunk (ha ha, funny name…  Riiiiiight), a socially awkward giant who has spent his entire life cooped up in a Catholic orphanage.  When a gambling debt-ridden trainer named Eddie arrives and prays to God for help, Walter falls through the window into the chapel and Eddie gets a light bulb.  Eddie cons the mother superior into allowing him to take Walter across the country to fight for money to pay his debts and for a kitchen repair to save the orphanage… No, I’m not joking.  That is this film’s excuse for a plot.  Walter proceeds to reluctantly engage in one poorly directed fight scene after another in hopes of winning enough money for him to save his home and for Eddie to repay his debts to Dennis Farina. 

When the film as at its highest, it features the characters hitchhiking with a trucker hauling a trailer full of pigs and illegal immigrants (tasteful).  At its lowest it has nuns at the center of tasteless and unfunny fart jokes and Walter’s size resulting in one of the many, stupid pratfalls the film attempts to pass off as comedy.  Throw in more ethnic and social stereotypes, Walter engaging in a backyard wrestling event run by an enterprising eleven year old in a top hat, an ex-stripper who lives in a trailer park and Walter wrestling a live bear (which is actually a guy in a very crappy bear costume) and the result is an utter disaster of a comedy.

There are surprisingly few actual fight scenes in this film.  The ones that we do see are shot chaotically in a manner that does not show off any of the strength or skill of its star.  The camera pans around the fight close up in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish who or what you are looking at.  The camera will occasionally focus on Wight’s face as he mugs for the camera while he or his opponent is in some sort of submission hold.  If you are going to make a movie showcasing a fighter, wouldn’t it be to the film and the fighter’s advantage to showcase what the star is capable of?

Chaotic direction aside, the acting is just awful here.  Wight gives a performance that is almost as bad as any performance Shaquille O’Neil has inflicted upon an unsuspecting audience.  He mumbles, hangs his head humbly and holds his hands at his stomach as though he where an orphan asking for more porridge.  He is not able to carry a scene which leaves it up to TV stars Melora Hardin (The Office) and Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains) to move each scene forward, which they manage to do, despite being held back by the utterly mediocre script.  The supporting cast, including the William Patton and the aforementioned Farina, are barely in the film, and only serve to either create the conflict needed to drive the protagonists or to establish a tie to anchor the characters to the plot that exists to give Walter an excuse to fight.

From start to finish, Knucklehead shoots for the lowest of the low.  Given the plot and studio behind the film, the bar is already pretty close to the ground, and this film barely cleared it.  I say barely because it is a better film than some of the horrible comedies that have hit theaters over the past few years (I direct you to my review of World’s Greatest Dad).  The movie is relatively harmless if you have young kids who are very, very into the WWE.  However, anyone over ten or twelve years old will have a hard time finding this entertaining, despite the PG-13 rating it strives for by inserting a few choice words.

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