This Week: Knucklehead (2010)
Tagline: “A Knock-Out Comedy Of Gigantic Proportions.”
WWE Superstar: The Big Show
Also Starring: Mark Feuerstein, Melora Hardin, Dennis Farina
Synopsis: After con artist Eddie Sullivan (Feuerstein) incurs a large debt with a local criminal ringleader, he creates a get-rich-quick scheme and enlists a sweet gentle giant named Walter (Wight) as his unwitting accomplice. (via IMDB)
Watch It: Netflix / Amazon / YouTube
Knucklehead opens with a group of children stuck in an orphanage performing The Wizard Of Oz, with the Big Show’s character, Walter Krunk, playing Glenda, The Good Witch Of The North. The rig he’s on malfunctions, causing him to destroy the entire set and send one of the orphans flying into the audience. The Office‘s Melora Hardin, playing Mary, does her best Cathy impersonation (ack!! ack!! sweatdrops!! sweatdrops!!) in the wings as Show accidentally smashes everything in sight.
The movie then jumps to a boxing gym run by Vic Sullivan (played by veteran character actor Will Patton), whose son Eddie (played by The West Wing‘s Mark Feuerstein) is currently training a new fighter that he hopes will win a $100,000 purse at an upcoming fighting tournament in New Orleans. In struts Dennis Farina playing someone named Memphis Earl (but really just playing himself), along with his fighter, the menacing Redrum (played by former pro wrestler-turned-Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, Lester Speight). Apparently Eddie is in debt to Earl for quite a bit of money, and his hope is he can win this tournament and pay him back. Instead, Earl has Redrum beat up Eddie’s fighter and tell him he better pay him back soon, or else.
Back to the orphanage: We get our first fart joke at the 9:33 mark (can’t believe it took this long, frankly), as Walter lets one rip in front of his orphan friend Henry (Kurt Doss) while he prepares a meal in the orphanage’s kitchen. Henry tells Walter to go take care of business. Another fart joke is squeezed out in just 15 seconds later, as Mary listens in on the head nun, Sister Francesca (played by Just Shoot Me‘s Wendie Malick), wreck the orphanage’s bathroom. Everybody poops.
Then, Walter, Mary and Sister Francesca smell something burning, and run back to find the kitchen completely engulfed in flames, with Henry just sitting there playing his GameBoy Advance or something. This dumbass kid is literally letting the kitchen burn down on his watch. No wonder why no one’s adopting you, stupid idiot. Anyway, this leads to Walter calling himself a knucklehead for the first time — but it won’t be the last. The health inspector shows up and promises to shut the orphanage down unless they can begin costly repairs on the kitchen within 10 days. Sister Francesca is pissed.
Through a serendipitous pratfall, Walter ends up in front of Eddie, who has come to church for the first time ever to ask God for help finding him a new fighter, and thus, an adventure on a short bus to New Orleans begins. Eddie’s plan is to train Walter to become the fiercest fighter on the amateur circuit, and record all the bouts to put up on YouTube in hopes of winning over people. What a dummy: No one cares if you’re an internet darling, can you slow down and tell a damn story in the ring or not? (Sorry, my inner Cornette got the best of me.) In the meantime, Eddie’s dad Vic unsuccessfully fends off physical threats from Memphis Earl and Redrum, winding up in the hospital.
Walter’s first battle: Jewish fight club! He goes up against Sugar Ray Rosenberg (not Sweet Sweet Peter Rosenberg, unfortunately) in the back of a synagogue in his tidy whiteys (which Eddie helpfully checks for skidmarks before the match — remember, this man farts a lot). The turning point of the match is when Rosenberg gives Walter a wedgie, then punches him in the groin, leading to Walter collapsing on top of him, resulting in a tapout. Hard to believe WWE’s never tried this finish on Raw, but there’s still time before Show retires, I guess.
On the way to their next fight, the short bus explodes. Pyro and ballyhoo! Walter, Eddie and Mary get picked up by a trucker who is hauling both pigs and, apparently, illegal immigrants. Also, the Big Show accidentally drinks the trucker’s pee. Hilarious! When the truck stops to let out Walter & Co., all the immigrants flee, and the truck driver rounds them up with the help of a shotgun. This is legitimately terrible.
The second fight is a backyard brawl run by a pintsize promoter that gets called off when the promoter’s father comes home and tears down the ring. Walter, not knowing who his opponent is, charges out of the house and wrecks the dad. Eddie records this and puts it on YouTube, where it starts to go viral.
Meanwhile, it’s insinuated that Eddie’s dad gets a spongebath from a sexy nurse. I guarantee that won’t be covered if the AHCA passes. Call your senator already, people!
We then meet Mary’s friend Tina, and it’s revealed the two were strippers in a former life. Tight. Tina thankfully, mercifully cuts off Walter’s disgusting mess of hair, turning him into a softer, cuddlier version of the Big Show.
Walter ends up at a fair fighting a bear named Dave. Given his history of absurd gimmick matches in his career, it’s amazing that Big Show has never actually fought a bear in a WWE ring before. But unlike in WWE, Show goes over here, putting the bear in a sleeper hold and winning $500 in the process. Eddie again records the fight and it goes viral almost immediately, resulting in Vader tweeting about how the match was blatant acrobatics with no story. Wait, I’m thinking of something else. Anyway.
It’s taken nearly 40 minutes, but we finally get another fart joke, as Walter smashes an all-you-can-eat buffet then gets hit with a massive bout of diarrhea while traveling on a packed charter bus. This moment is filmed like a scene from Schindler’s List where the Nazis are gassing their prisoners, with swelling strings soundtracking Big Show’s bowel movement and cries of “I’m sorry, please forgive me!” as dozens of extras gasp for air and slap their hands against the bus windows for freedom that is so close, yet totally unattainable. It’s almost beautiful, in a bizarre way.
At some point, bikers start picking on Mary and get beaten up by Walter with some classic Kevin Dunn shaky-cam work. I got dizzy just watching this scene. Then we got a montage showing Mary and Eddie holding each other closer in the backseat of their Rover via riding on the motorcycle they stole from the bikers, cooking hot dogs over a campfire and just sort of being in a reasonable proximity of one another.
The crew finally gets to New Orleans, and Walter and Eddie hit the town dressed as Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman from Rainman, while Mary wears a flattering red dress. She then gets drunk on margaritas and ends up in a mud wrestling match in her underwear. Call me a chauvinistic pig, but this is by far the best part of the movie.
We finally get to the Beatdown On The Bayou, a single-elimination pro-am tournament which both Walter and Redrum run the board on to the tune of some generic-ass butt-rock songs. (A consultation of the credits reveals songs by Divide The Day, Airbourne and Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster, all three of which are certifiably bad bands.) As we approach the finals, Eddie’s dad appears, freshly spongebathed. (Thanks, Obamacare.) Dennis Farina also shows up and threatens to kill Henry unless Walter takes a dive. Walter likely doesn’t understand the concept of “taking a dive,” so he just continues to fight, calling himself a knucklehead (but this time, it’s said in, like, a cool way).
After a brawl for all, Walter submits Redrum, Dennis Farina flees with Henry but gets caught (and tazed) by nuns. I smell Sister Act 3 brewing! The good guys walk off with $100,000 in prize money plus another $80,000 thanks to Eddie’s dad being a scumbag and taking the money Eddie had already raised for the orphanage and using it to bet on the fight. The movie concludes with Walter adopting Henry and moving in with Tina.
So! We’ve reached the end. In Pro Wrestling Movie Club, we have three specific questions that must be asked at the conclusion of each film:
1. Is The Movie Objectively Any Good? Okay, so here’s the thing: This is in no way a good movie. But it’s also the kind of bad movie that you could very easily find yourself watching multiple times because, unlike the other installments of Pro Wrestling Movie Club (and presumably WWE Studios films as a whole), Knucklehead actually tells a story from start to finish, with no gigantic leaps of logic or plotholes. Sure, it’s pretty much a remake of Kingpin, but there are worse things to be.
2. Is The WWE Superstar Any Good In It? The Big Show does the best with what he’s given, but I doubt he thinks of this as any of his finest acting work. But at least he didn’t turn heel in the middle of the film.
3. Would I Be Embarrassed To Have A Friend Find A Copy In My Blu-Ray Collection? If I had kids, I’d say no, because I can definitely picture pre-teens laughing their ass off at this thing. However, I ain’t no father quite yet, so I’m gonna say yeah.
Next Week: I fire up No One Lives, a horror movie starring the Funkasaurus himself, Brodus Clay. (And no, the horror movie is not just the “somebody call my momma” extended dance scene from WrestleMania 28 — at least I hope it’s not.)