The Hammer

In his film star debut, The Man Show and Loveline’s Adam Carolla plays an Olympic caliber boxer. At 18, Jerry “The Hammer” Ferro was a champion; now 40, his nickname underscores his job in construction. Casting pale, paunchy Carolla as a knockout king is odd. (Though his nasal drone is no more incongruous than Mike Tyson’s pipsqueak.) That Carolla wrote the script (along with Kevin Hench) brings the premise into focus, as does the film’s quick mention that in recent medal bouts the US has taken home one prize to Kazakhstan’s three. Besides, Carolla’s cheesy romance with a classy public defender (Heather Juergensen) is so ludicrous that in comparison, the boxing seems entirely credible. A better love match is between him and best friend Oswaldo (Oswaldo Castillo), a migrant worker whose scenes set up Carolla’s gift for riffing sharply observational and utterly LA ethnic humor. (Upon spending his birthday with Oswaldo’s rowdy motherland-toasting buddies, Carolla notes, “You guys sure seem to love Nicaragua . . . except for the part where you risked your lives not to live there anymore.”) As a comic actor, Carolla splits the difference between Adam Sandler and Rodney Dangerfield. His one distinct tic is to cram in four punch lines when most would stop at one; few are knockouts, but each packs a solid hit. Like the boxer himself, the flick is flabby but light on its feet, both ultimately exceeding expectations.

Click here for The Hammer in the I.E. Weekly