The Ringer Review

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Saddled with a friend’s massive medical bills, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) conspires to rig the Special Olympics by faking a disability so his gambler uncle (Brian Cox) can place bets on him to win. He faces the challenge not only of fooling his rival

★★★★★

Finally, after such egregious swill as Walking Tall and The Dukes Of Hazzard, likeable yahoo Johnny Knoxville finds a vehicle worthy of his genial white-trash mettle. In this warm-hearted, minor comic treat — artfully disguised, in the best Farrelly tradition (they’re producing), as splutter-inducing spazzploitation — Knoxville plays Steve Barker, an affable office drone who pretends to be “retarded” (note quotation marks) to win the Special Olympics.

Which sounds, admittedly, like a gratuitous excuse for a chortle at the “differently-abled” folks’ expense and for Knoxville to funny it up by acting like a “spacker”. And, yes, it is. Sort of. True, Knoxville impersonates a “spacker”, but the solid supply of laughs comes at no-one’s expense.

Fully endorsed by the real-life Special Olympics, the film also stars a number of real-life disabled athletes who are obviously so used to being patronised and/or underestimated that they have developed a deliciously bone-dry sense of pre-emptive humour that’s both disarming and hilarious. And to whom pussyfooting around in PC slippers would have been a disservice...

As with Stuck On You, this is proof that when the Farrellys are involved (even as mere producers), ribald yet humane comedy can be mined from the most potentially offensive sources.