This review is for anybody out there who is a poor sucker, like me. If you are a poor sucker you might foolishly assume that this documentary about LORD OF THE RINGS fans is called RINGERS because it is like the movie TREKKIES. A horrifying look into the abyss. You stare at that fucker and it stares right back at you, or whatever. A freak show. A good time at the movies. A cultural document that gives you the fuckin creeps even thinking about it years later.
But you remember how TREKKIES seemed like it was trying to be respectful and non-exploitative of the fans, but the people they found were just so fuckin over the top that it didn’t work? You know, like halfway through the interview with the guy dressed as a woman that he says is the never shown on screen wife of a minor astrounaut character for one episode, they figured “Ah, fuck it, we can’t make a respectful documentary about these lunatics. Let the freak show begin.” Well this is not like that. This is more like a rejected VH-1 special.
The movie has sort of an overview of the writing and publishing of the books, how they got popular and then just a bunch of interviews with the stars of the movies talking about how they hope the movies give people hope and believe in theirselves or whatever. Some of this stuff is actually pretty interesting. They interview David Carradine and at first you’re thinking okay, yeah, let’s see what the guy from KUNG FU thinks about Lord of the Rings, I guess. Er– huh? Then you find out that in the ’70s when he heard there was a LORD OF THE RINGS movie being made he called up the studio trying to get in on that, but they told him it was gonna be animated. He claims he was a fan of Ralph Bakshi but actually went and tried to talk him out of doing it as a cartoon.
Also there’s a part in here where they claim the Beatles tried to make a LORD OF THE RINGS movie, first with David Lean and then with Stanley Kubrick. Ain’t that a bitch? They act like this means the Beatles would’ve starred in it but I’m betting they just wanted to fund it like HOLY MOUNTAIN. I mean how would you do LORD OF THE RINGS starring the Beatles? On the other hand Ringo would’ve been good as those two fuckup hobbits that get stuck in a tree for most of the trilogy.
Unlike TREKKIES this doesn’t have profiles of nutbag freakos who wear wizard hats to work and are trying to get surgery to turn into a giant talking eagle. You bet your ass those people are out there but these “Ringers” are just people who came into a little booth at some comic book convention or other and talk to the camera about how “AWESOME” Lord of the Rings is. The closest thing to a lunatic is some lady who claims she sold her house to go to the premiere of RETURN OF THE KING STARRING VIGGO MORTENSEN. But she seems like a normal lady and at least she got to go to New Zealand. I heard it’s pretty there this time of year.
They try to act like the fans interviewed are at some big LORD OF THE RINGS related event, but I’m guessing it was more of a generalized nerdfest. Unless it is normal to dress up like Pirates of the Caribbean at a Lord of the Rings festival. Anyway, you can only watch so many earnest people in costumes professing their profound love for Lord of the Rings before it gets old. And by “so many,” I mean one.
One of the few enjoyably uncomfortable moments here is when a teenage girl tells Elijah Wood the thrilling tale of the time she saw him in FLIPPER and said “Oh my god he’s so hot” and then checked the credits to see what his name was. But that’s just teenybopper shit, that’s not true obsession. The only truly great moment in the whole thing is when a little kid talks about his favorite villain in the movies (I couldn’t tell which one he was talking about) but says if he saw him in real life he’d “just kick him in the weiner.”
The style of the movie is inexcusable. For a while, all the segments start out with some “funny” little cartoon with wacky sound effects. There is a cheeseball score that sometimes makes you think you’re watching Access Hollywood. Some of the history is illustrated with fake black and white archival footage. Okay it’s harmless here but let’s just not do that in a documentary, asshole. Worse, they illustrate each decade since the publishing of the books with fake stock footage of young people sitting around in ridiculous “Hippie” Halloween costumes (or whatever cliche best represents the decade in question) pretending to read the Lord of the Rings books to each other. Which is of course what everybody did in the ’60s, drop acid and sit around in a bedroom READING to each other. This is pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever seen in a documentary, ever. Including G.G. Allin shoving a banana up his ass.
There are alot of things I could suggest that these filmatists could’ve done. First of all, erase all the tapes of everything they shot and fire the animator. Then don’t ever make the movie. Short of that, they could’ve at least done the Billy Boyd interview at a SEED OF CHUCKY press junket, sitting in front of the SEED OF CHUCKY poster. That would’ve been kind of funny.
Also, the entire movie could’ve been about David Carradine’s adventures, going around asking for roles in movies or trying to talk people out of making movies. Maybe he could tell some stories about the making of CIRCLE OF IRON. Shit, EVEN if he had to stick to the topic of Lord of the Rings, this guy is clearly more interesting than most of what’s in the movie. You gotta learn to let shit happen in a documentary, don’t force it. In other words, leave the camera rolling on Carradine. See what unfolds. Don’t worry, you’ll have time to do more montages of dudes dressed up like orks later on.
The thing I don’t get is, why does these fan groups have to have names? I doubt anybody really uses the word “ringers,” but I know for a fact that there is a name for people who like SERENITY, two names for people who like STAR TREK, one for kids who wear evil clown makeup. What’s the deal, man? Can’t you just be a guy that liked the Lord of the Rings books? Do you really gotta have a name for it? What if you like more than one thing, how the fuck are you supposed to identify yourself? David Carradine says he likes that shit, you don’t see him going around calling himself names. Come on man get with the program.
Anyway this movie is a lemon. It’s one of those movies strictly for the people who actually appear in the movie. Except the FLIPPER girl, she probaly doesn’t want to see that shit again. Anyway, I say don’t bother watching this one, even if it is an extra on a DVD that you find for free in the bushes.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.