Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Other Adam Carolla Project: The Hammer

If you don't like Adam Carolla, you can stop reading this now. Seriously, there's nothing here for you.

I've found Mr. Carolla amusing since his Loveline days on MTV. His working class-style approach often made a lot more sense to me than Dr. Drew Pinsky's educated opinions. Reasonably, a guy who spent a big part of his life as a boxing trainer before and a carpenter before becoming a comedian has made a funny movie about a carpenter who has a chance to box in the Olympics.

As might be expected, the hero of the film, Jerry Ferro (played by Carolla) is basically a loser. But he's not a loser because he hit hard times or was ground down by someone. No, he's just a loser because, well, it was easier and more fun to get high and play video games. This is probably truer to life than most similar stories, and keeps it from the typical melodramatic pitfalls.

The story begins when, on his 40th birthday, he loses his and his pal's (crap) job and his girlfriend, but manages to channel his frustration into his boxing. This turns into a shot at the 2008 Beijing Olympics--or does it? Boxing is a young man's game, generally speaking (and as near as I can tell, the age limit is 36) but the movie gives us certain expectations without dealing to heavily in fantasy.

Joining Carolla on his 88 minute journey are his Nicaraguan buddy Oswaldo (played by Oswaldo Castillo, Carolla's real life construction pal) and cute-as-a-button Heather Juergensen, as a Public Defender with a love of underdogs. Old timer Tom Quinn, looking and acting like he'd been born to play the role of tough-as-nails boxing coach Eddie Bell, also coaches a deeply religious flyweight (Jonathan Hernandez) and Carolla's much younger rival played by Harold House Moore.

Adam has chemistry with everyone, and the only time I felt he overplayed his hand a bit was on a date to the La Brea Tar Pits. Apart from that this movie is tight, funny, even suspenseful--you don't know how far he's going to get--and gives us enough back to where we feel rewarded for rooting for the guy, but not so much that we feel pandered to.

It's a delicate balance.

It's also a good reminder that you can make a good comedy/drama for under a million bucks.

It should get a wider release.

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