At the turn of the millenium, the name Jerry Springer has become synonomous with “trash tv” and everything that has gone wrong with our culture. It’s only fitting, then, that Jerry gets his own movie. But Ringmaster, a half-hearted attempt to translate the “ideal” Jerry Springer show free-for-all to the screen, ends up an even worse movie than the concept sounds!
Jerry Springer stars as Jerry Farrelly, talk show host. His show, Jerry!, lets its guests air their dirty laundry in front of a national television audience, and also (occassionally) engage in brutal fistcuffs.
The first set of guests, for the show titled “You Did WHAT With Your Stepdaddy?”, are a pathetic bunch of trailer trash. Angel Zorzak (Jaime Pressly) is a sex-starved 19-year old having an affair with her stepfather (Michael Dudikoff). In retaliation, her 34-year old mother, Connie (Molly Hagen) strikes up a relationship with Angel’s fiancee, Willie (Ashley Holbrook).
The second Jerry! show is entitled “My Traitor Girlfriends”. Starletta (Wendy Raquel Robinson) is having problems with her boyfriend, Demond (Michael Jai White). He’ll sleep with anyone, including Starletta’s best friends, Vonda (Tangie Ambrose) and Leshawnette (Nicki Michneaux).
Now, obviously, these are the screenwriters’ attempts at setting up the “perfect” Jerry Springer show. But, where’s the fun in that? I mean, part of the lurid appeal of his TV show is that the guests are real. Real people with real problems and real bad attitudes. Here, it’s just a bunch of actors acting badly, and it shows.
I guess here you also get to see the enchanting lives the “typical” Jerry Springer guests live before their on-air appearances. And you also get to gawk at the “glamourous” life behind the scenes of Jerry’s show. In other words, nothing very appealing is here at all.
But nothing can compare to when the film starts preaching its “message”. You see, Jerry Springer is all about helping the poor. Anyone who dislikes the show is simply uncomfortable with watching poor folk talk about their problems. However, Ringmaster conveniently forgets to mention the fact that the show also happens to be exploiting those same “poor folk” it supposedly champions. Oh well, they never claimed it was a rational argument.
If you’re a die-hard Jerry Springer junkie, you ought to stick with the real thing. For those of you non-fans out there, Ringmaster certainly won’t convert you. If anything, it may make you despise Jerry Springer all the more.