Knucklehead -- Film Review

 Hard to say whether the title refers to the main character or anyone who bothers to see this lame WWE-produced comedy.

Even the target audience of kids and wrestling fans are bound to be turned off by “Knucklehead,” the latest ill-fated attempt by World Wrestling Entertainment to parlay the appeal of one of its resident stars onto the big screen.

This lame comedy about a big doofus who enters the fight game manages to take every cliche in the book and render them even more cliched: the fast-talking hustler who turns out to have a conscience after all, the nun who can kick serious butt when necessary, the demure female chaperone who suddenly strips down to bra and panties during a bar fight and the 400-pound-plus behemoth who is just a kid at heart. They’re all here and more in this witless exercise.

Mark Feuerstein plays Eddy, a fight promoter who finds himself in life-threatening debt to a local gangster (Dennis Farina, doing his trademark comic tough-guy shtick). His literal prayers are answered when he comes across the massive Walter (Paul Wight, better known professionally as “Big Show”), who has just accidentally set fire to the orphanage in which he still lives.

Along with orphanage employee Mary (Melora Hardin), they take it on the road to a fighting tournament in New Orleans, hoping to score money by arranging small fights along the way. In the process, Walter becomes an Internet sensation thanks to videos of his bouts with a grizzly bear and a gang of threatening bikers.

The attempted humor is strictly of the low-rent variety, with the main comic set pieces involving Walter’s size, his propensity for flatulence and his horrific bout with gastro-intestinal distress on a crowded bus.

Feuerstein and Hardin are game enough, but they look like they’d prefer to be back on the small screen in “Royal Pains” and “The Office,” respectively. The massive, childlike Wight is a likable-enough figure but is not exactly likely to hit the screen heights of such predecessors as the Rock or even John Cena.

As usual for this sort of thing, the supporting cast includes such slumming pros as Wendie Malick, Will Patton and Saul Rubinek, the latter as a rabbi who hosts fight nights at his temple.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 22 (Samuel Goldwyn)
Production: WWE Studios
Cast: Mark Feuerstein, Melora Hardin, Paul “Big Show” Wight, Dennis Farina, Wendie Malick, Rebecca Creskoff, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Will Patton, Saul Rubinek
Director: Michael W. Watkins
Screenwriters: Bear Aderhold, Thomas F.X. Sullivan, Adam Rifkin
Producer: Mike Pavone
Executive producers: Steve Barnett, Dave Calloway
Director of photography: Kenneth Zunder
Production designer: Raymond Pumilia
Editor: Peck Prior
Costume design: Claire Breaux
Rated PG-13, 100 minutes