Knucklehead (2010)

Knucklehead features fisticuffs and flatulence galore

Mixed martial arts is perhaps the fastest growing sport in the world, so it was only a matter of time before Hollywood hopped on the bandwagon. After a few mediocre attempts to cash in on the phenomenon, the sport of MMA now has its own equivalent to Rudy, Bull Durham and Raging Bull. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Knucklehead.

In Knucklehead, WWE superstar The Big Show portrays Walter Krunk, a seven foot tall employee at the St. Thomas Orphanage. Walter grew up at the orphanage, and now at the age of 35 still calls it home. As a result of his lack of life experience, Walter is a naive and gentle giant. He’s also quite flatulent. If you like toilet humour, and really, why wouldn’t you, then you’ll be glad to know that Knucklehead is full of bowel movements and belly laughs.

Walter’s world is turned upside when, displaying his knucklehead tendencies, he ends up destroying the orphanage’s kitchen. The city threatens to close St. Thomas down unless the necessary repairs, totalling $25,000, are completed in 10 days.

Luckily Walter encounters Eddie Sullivan (Mark Feuerstein), a desperate mixed martial arts manager who is in need of a fighter to win an upcoming tournament. Despite Walter having no fight training, and no sort of killer instinct whatsoever, Eddie only sees a world of potential in the big guy. Eddie owes a big chunk of change to crime boss Memphis Earl (Dennis Farina), and views Walter as his saviour.

So Eddie, Walter and fellow orphanage employee Mary O’Connor (Melora Hardin, best known as Jan Levinson from The Office) embark on a zany crosscountry adventure. Walter prepares for the big tournament in New Orleans by competing in a Jewish temple, a backyard fighting event run by children and he even competes in hand-to-paw combat with a 1,600 pound bear! No offence to the UFC, but some of your events lately have been snooze fests, with fighters doing more dancing than fighting. You know who wouldn’t be afraid to get in there and mix it up? A bear, that’s who!

This all leads to a thrilling conclusion at the tournament that features kidnapped orphans, crimefighting nuns and combat scenes so intense that the ones in Fight Club look like toddlers fighting over a teddy bear in comparison.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: orphans are one of the greatest plot devices out there. They are right up there with monkeys. If anyone ever made a film about an orphanage full of monkeys, it would undoubtedly be the finest motion picture ever produced. Orphans are so darn loveable that within a few years of each other we have seen both Jack Black become a wrestler (Nacho Libre) and The Big Show become a mixed martial artist to help them out.

As much as I enjoyed Nacho Libre, this film is far superior. The Big Show shows that he is a better actor and comedian than Black – probably a better musician as well. Interesting fact, the current record holder for the tallest Academy Award winning actor is Tim Robbins, standing at a mere 6 foot 5 inches. I expect that record to fall this March when we see The Big Show clutching a tiny-looking Academy Award in his big, meaty hands.

Knucklehead is now available on DVD and Blu-ray after a limited engagement in six theatres that saw it gross $75. That is not a typo. It actually made about as much money as a teenager would working a seven-hour shift at McDonald’s. But don’t let that lack of monetary success fool you. Knucklehead is an artistic success, and I strongly suggest you check it out, joining me and the six people who went to see it at the cinema in a very select club.


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