By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
You would think Adam Carolla would have had some generic comedy vehicle by now. He'd play a guy with a weird talent or skill who had to earn a certain amount of money in a short period of time, so came up with some oddball plan to get it. But no, he never did. This little indie film barely getting distribution is Adam Carolla's first star vehicle.
Movie Review: The Hammer
It's better this way, because The Hammer is actually good. Carolla plays a slacker construction worker who also teaches cardio boxing at the gym. People think his nickname comes from his former profession, but it's actually his left hook. Anyway, he shows up a champion heavyweight and a trainer offers him a chance to get back in the fight game.
First of all, the film endears you to the slacker right away. He's not one of those obnoxious movie smartasses who thinks he's above work. He's actually noble, trying to get his friend hired. He's not self-righteous either, just observant in the way Adam Carolla fans love. He's more self-deprecating than deprecating towards anyone else.
There are plenty of opportunities for Carolla to spout wisdom and observations. There are banter situations with friends and love interests, multiple takes jump cut together to show all the ways he could spin a setup, and even a little bit of voiceover, which I hear he's kind of good at.
The boxing is pretty good too. You can see the technique and the fights build the excitement. There's some good romance in the relationship subplot too, including the best superficial gesture this side of any studio romantic comedy.
The film shows its low budget in a film school style approach, which is surprising because it is the director's second film. But extreme close-ups on mundane cutaways like fingers opening beer cans are a giveaway. They also cut away from the only stunt, knocking a heavy bag out of the ceiling. They couldn't even rig that? But the story and character persevere over production value.
The music is oddly outdated, but that is irrelevant. I'm not talking about "Eye of the Tiger." That's timeless. But Bosstones and Social Distortion tracks don't really seem specific enough to clarify their import, and couldn't have been that cheap either.
If they'd just surrounded Carolla with Saturday Night Live performers in the supporting roles, it would have been one of those movies. Instead, it flies under the radar. It may be a longer road to movie stardom, but it will make an impression on those that see it.