KNUCKLEHEAD 2 ½ stars
Samuel Goldwyn Films, Rated PG-13
The idea of “one size fits all” can come in handy for Knucklehead’s extra large protagonist, Paul “Big Show” Wight, but such a concept rarely works in movies, leading this WWE heavyweight romp to be a lightweight comedic crowd pleaser, especially for kids, but leave wrestling purists grumbling.
Wight is Walter Kronk, the Knucklehead in question, a dim-witted fearful giant on the gentle side who has spent his entire life in a Catholic orphanage, in phobic reaction to the outside world. When Eddy (Mark Feuerstein), a boxing promoter on the run due to a bad debt, stops by the orphanage church to pray for a miracle, he spots Walter as his dream salvation in the ring. He then convinces the nutty parish nuns to let him take Kronk on the road to raise money the orphanage is in dire need of as well, in order to make repairs and avoid being shut down.
The initial ho-hum premise picks up narrative steam as the goofy humor escalates during the course of this bumpy road movie, kicking off with a synagogue showdown between the ferocious infamous “Kosher Killer” and a clueless Kronk, lacking suitable duds and clad in what are referred to as his “globe hugger” undies and winding its way through outlandish amateur contender standoffs to culmination in a championship bout down in New Orleans.
But Kronk rarely has to worry, since his opponents—except for one angry bear—simply lose as a result of being smothered by the 450 pounder or else collapse from exhaustion when failing to make a single dent in his towering physique. In fact, Kronk’s easily most formidable challenge along the way is when finding himself unable to extricate his supersized bottom from a bus toilet, requiring the assistance of an entire local fire department.
Meanwhile, a couple of fearsome female sidebars threaten to upstage Knucklehead’s mostly passive aggressive accidental winning streak in the ring, including pole dancer-turned-orphanage surrogate mom Mary (Melora Hardin), along for the ride and a little downtime romance between cross-country rounds, in addition to the aforementioned feisty orphanage sisters on stakeout to run interference against some ringside thugs, as they do battle in their own way and “nun up.”