December 4, 2005
Ready To Rumble (2000)
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling
Starring: David Arquette, Oliver Platt, Scott Caan, Bill Goldberg, Rose McGowan
Much has been made of Ready To Rumble's quality as a movie; it truly seems to be a "love it or hate it" type of film. Jay Boyar of The Orlando Sentinel proclaimed "Yes, film fans, there is a new worst movie of all time," while our own John Powell offered that "Ready To Rumble works because of its tone." Message board users banter back and forth in debates between it being better than its reputation, or actually worse. The truth is that the film's ultimate failure was in being unable to reach either of the two audiences it was shooting for.
Pro wrestling always seems to be fighting a battle to get off the borderline between mainstream notoriety and blissful obscurity. Fans especially always clamor for their favourite entertainment to be accepted and respected, but then discover with disdain that the marriage of wrestling and mainstream worlds begets a product like Ready To Rumble. In trying to reach new fans and bring them into the wrestling world, the film misses by its basic lack of quality -- that point is rarely debated. The double-whammy, however, was the resentment it sparked in the fans that should have provided the solid audience foundation.
The list of wrestlers that appear in Ready To Rumble reads as a "who's who" of WCW's roster at the turn of the millennium. Amidst all of these grapplers, though, it's Oliver Platt (Executive Decision) who plays Jimmy King, a wrestling hero to Gordie (Arquette, Scream, Eight Legged Freaks) and Sean (Caan, Ocean's Eleven - 2001) that gets booted out of WCW. It becomes the two friends' mission to restore him as the company's champion.
Fans were turned off by the real-life wrestling storyline tie-in to the movie that had Arquette wrestling for the WCW World Title. It was in very much the same manner that Hulk Hogan's vehicle No Holds Barred left a sour taste in people's mouth as Zeus (Tommy Lister, Immortal Combat, Santa's Slay) left the silver screen and challenged the Hulkster in the ring. In the case of Zeus, however, he had some business being in the wrestling ring and, besides ... he didn't win the WWF Championship as Arquette did for WCW by pinning Eric Bischoff in 2000. That moment, rightly or wrongly, shades the memory of Ready To Rumble.
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at email@example.com -- SLAM! Wrestling.