International Film Circuit, the independent distributor of Adam Carolla’s new and loosely autobiographical movie The Hammer, must be breathing a big sigh of relief in the wake of the acid-tongued radioman’s continued presence on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Carolla’s survival of the first round, two-week vote-off, after all, seems integral to any modestly-scaled success The Hammer
might experience, given that it means millions of viewers will still
have a chance to see and enjoy him during the very weeks that his film
Taking a story credit but ceding the screenplay work to The Man Show
writer Kevin Hench, Carolla stars as Jerry Ferro, a 40-year-old, once-promising
amateur boxer who’s been knocking around from one construction job to
another, his last connection to the fight game being the evening boxing class he teaches at a Pasadena Bodies in
Motion. Impressed with his sparring and take-down of his client, a
legendary coach floats the notion of Jerry training for a shot at the
Olympic trials, thinking that way he’ll save on having to actually pay
him. With his friend Ozzie (Oswaldo Castillo), Jerry begins an unlikely
quest, and also strikes up a burgeoning relationship with one of his
workout clients, public defender Lindsay Pratt (Heather Juergensen,
above right, also Hench’s husband), along the way.
Shot two summers ago in Sherman Oaks,
Burbank and Van Nuys, and featuring many of the old haunts that Carolla
toiled in and around, The Hammer tries to milk its threadbare production value for all it’s worth. The movie is rather poorly directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld (Kissing Jessica Stein), and the romantic stuff plays awkwardly. In some ways, it’s fair to say the movie succeeds in spite of itself.
But its affection for the blue-collar working class is so deeply and honestly felt, and Carolla, while not a natural actor in any sense of the word, is a pleasantly tart screen companion. He’s a
guy for whom you root, because while he takes it on the chin and tries
to change things, he’s also a hardcore realist aware of his own
strengths and limitations.
“Success isn’t a big part of my DNA,” says
Jerry, who at one point takes a fellow boxer’s salty put-down of him
being middle-class and deftly twists it into a sarcastic comeback. “I’m
having trouble focusing on what else you said, because that may be the
biggest compliment anyone has ever paid me.” Now a millionaire several
times over in real life, Carolla has the means to distance himself from the
socioeconomic traumas of his roots — to buy his way up, in essence.
Instead, he surrounds himself with folks like Castillo, a Nicaraguan
immigrant he met on a construction gig in 1989. That sincerity and
loyalty makes Carolla real, and very relatable. The quick-jab wit,
meanwhile, has made him wealthy. For more on Carolla, and the full review of the movie, from FilmStew, click here.