Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
"The Ringer" is a comedy about a man who poses as mentally disabled in order to fraudulently enter the Special Olympics. Yes, it's connected to the Farrelly brothers, specialists in bad taste, the same Bobby and Peter who showed the guy's artificial thumb rolling down the alley stuck in his bowling ball; indeed, the same Peter and Bobby who in "There's Something About Mary" gave us the hair gel that could have taken cell cloning research in a new direction. They are the executive producers of "The Ringer," which means they came up with the money, and my guess is a lot more than that.
So the movie is in horrible taste and Politically Incorrect and an affront to all that is decent, right? After all, it stars Johnny Knoxville, whose "Jackass" TV show is probably the Farrelly's idea of "Masterpiece Theatre." But not so fast, Ex-Lax. The movie surprised me. It treats its disabled characters with affection and respect, it has a plot that uses the Special Olympics instead of misusing them, and it's actually kind of sweet, apart from a few Farrellian touches like the ex-janitor who gets his fingers chopped off in the lawn mower.
What happens is that the hero, Steve Barker (Knoxville), listens to one self-help tape too many: Hey, you! Yes, you! I'm talking to you -- the loser who bought this tape! The tape works him into a lather and he demands a promotion. "Sure," says the boss. "You can start now. Fire the janitor."
But, jeez, Stavi the janitor (Luis Avalos) is a nice guy, and a widower with five kids to feed. So Steve fires him, and then hires him to mow the lawn at his condo, and gives him a raise out of his own salary, and then Stavi Loses Fingers. Stavi, who always refers to himself in the third person, seems to speak in capitalized words, as in Stavi's Kids Will Starve, or HMO Says Stavi Has No Finger-Sewing Insurance.