Since the good ol' days of Big Daddy and Giant Hay-stacks bouncing bellies on a Saturday afternoon, Britain's never exactly been a nation of grapple-fans. Okay, so Sky's WWF Smackdown has a fair-sized audience, but that's nothing compared to the situation Stateside, where wrestling is truly big business. Which explains why director Brian Robbins chose to follow his high-school American football drama Varsity Blues with this relentlessly stupid look at wrestlers and the bozos who love 'em.
Not so much a movie as a feature-length ad for World Championship Wrestling, Ready To Rumble kicks off as it means to go on by showing its heroes, Gordie and Sean, going about their daily chores: hoovering up the contents of portaloos into their septic truck. When said tanker overturns, they hitch a ride with a load of flatulent nuns. Yes, it's that kind of picture.
Thankfully, Robbins has assembled a cast with enough comic nous to compensate for the lowbrow humour. David Arquette and Scott Caan make an appealing double act in the Bill and Ted mould, and while Oliver Platt hardly looks in the same league as such muscle-bound meatheads as Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow, he's hilarious as the chubby champ turned trailer park drunkard.
Joe Pantoliano is his usual caustic self as the crooked promoter who brings about Platt's downfall, while Landau has a few good lines as the geriatric trainer who helps him back on his feet. Yet despite the rough-and-tumble subject matter, it's actually surprisingly violent, and you'll find you're wincing more than laughing.
Most depressing, however, is the amount of shameless product placement on show. From the vast array of WCW "characters" to the finale at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Ready To Rumble gives a whole new spin to "commercial cinema".
If you like your humour broad and puerile, this raucous romp is undemanding and sometimes very funny. However, you can't shake the feeling that Brian Robbins' movie has far better actors than it deserves.