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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'Ringmaster'

23 November 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Hey, four words: Jerry Springer -- The Movie.

Poetry in motion, right? You take your average Springer guests and show them in their natural, pretaping habitat. And while you're at it, you also reveal what makes Jerry tick. It's money, baby.

Apparently, it's what the five producers and seven exec producers behind the low-budgeted "Ringmaster" are thinking. The problem is, their fictionalized account of the events leading up to an appearance on Springer's show, a k a "Lifestyles of the Poor and Trashy," plays like one of Jerry's "Too Hot for TV" videos, with the added bonus of bad writing and direction.

But will the guarantee of a bleep-free 90 minutes, complete with a generous flashing of breasts (including Jerry's), plus cheesy, simulated sex acts be enough to lure viewers out of the comfort of their trailer park? Artisan Entertainment, in a bid to break out of its usual art house mode, clearly hopes so, but "Ringmaster"'s true destiny lies on the video racks. Or maybe Jerry will thoughtfully throw in a copy as an incentive to buy his upcoming tell-all book.

Little do Angel, Connie, Rusty and Willie know, their sordid little lives are about to become the "You Did WHAT With Your Stepdaddy?" episode on the next "Jerry Springer".

It seems Angel (Jaime Pressly), a motel chambermaid who goes the extra distance for male guests, is about to tie the knot with the slow-witted Willie (Ashley Holbrook) while also carrying on with Rusty (Michael Dudikoff), who just happens to be married to Angel's mom, Connie (Molly Hagan). When she catches the two in action, Connie decides to teach her daughter a lesson by servicing her fiance.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the park, the take-no-prisoners Starletta Wendy Raquel Robinson) catches her man Michael Jai White) getting freaky with her best friend (Tangie Ambrose). With said boyfriend having previously played the dog with her other best friend (Nicki Micheaux), the grouping is a natural for a "My Traitor Girlfriends" episode.

More than willing to air their dirty laundry for a trip to Hollywood (apparently Chicago isn't sexy enough), both parties head for the "Springer" show -- but not before doing a little interfacing, if you know what we mean.

Playing out like watered-down John Waters, the Neil Abramson-directed, Jon Bernstein-written enterprise awkwardly goes for a poor approximation of cheap, sleazy satire one minute and (inexplicably) quiet, tender introspection the next, with nothing capturing the sheer, guilty-pleasure adrenaline rush of an installment of Springer's real TV show.

The acting styles are similarly all over the place, with Hagan's I-just-wanna-be-loved competitive mom bravely striving for something more noble. She's a trailer trash Ma Joad. At least Robinson ("The Steve Harvey Show") seems to be a enjoying herself as the wrong woman to mess with.

As for Jerry's big acting debut, in which he gets to share a post-coital embrace with Rebecca Broussard and delivers an encore performance of his country song ("Dr. Talk"), here's a Final Thought: Don't quit your day job.


Artisan Entertainment

A Motion Pictures

Corporation of America production

Director: Neil Abramson

Screenwriter: Jon Bernstein

Producers: Jerry Springer, Gina Rugolo-Judd, Brad Jenkel, Steve Stabler, Gary W. Goldstein

Executive producers: Brent Baum, Don Corsini, Richard Dominick, Erwin More, Brian Medavoy, Donald Kushner, Peter Locke

Director of photography: Russell Lyster

Production designers: Dorian Vernacchio, Deborah Raymond

Editor: Suzanne Hines

Costume designer: Gail McMullen

Music supervisor: Marcus Barone

Music: Kennard Ramsey

Casting: Carmen Tetzlaff



Jerry: Jerry Springer

Angel: Jaime Pressly

Troy: William McNamara

Connie: Molly Hagan

Starletta: Wendy Raquel Robinson

Demond: Michael Jai White

Willie: Ashley Holbrook

Rusty: Michael Dudikoff

Vonda: Tangie Ambrose

Leshawnette: Nicki Micheaux

Willie: Ashley Holbrook

Running time -- 90 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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