"The Hammer" DVD Review
June 16, 2008 by Zach Demeter
A movie starring Adam Corolla? Uh oh this can’t be good. Wait, it is good? Does that mean I’m dead? No that wouldn’t make sense, because even in Heaven or Hell a movie starring Adam Corolla wouldn’t be allowed, especially if it was good; in Heaven it would mean it would be something Hell produced to get those two to form something entertaining and in Hell…well, it couldn’t exist, because you can’t enjoy Hell. So how exactly did The Hammer manage to blow my mind? Well…it’s just a cute film. Yes. Corolla and “cute’ in the same paragraph. Hide the children.
The Hammer tells the tale of golden glove boxer Jerry Ferro (Carolla). Although a construction worker by day, at night he taught a class at the local gym where he taught others the skills he learned in his younger days. After being found by a talent scout, Ferro is pegged as a possible Olympic champion and trains alongside two other hopefuls in his class. Along the way Jerry finds love with his new girlfriend Lindsay Pratt (Heather Juergensen) and help from his long-time friend Oswaldo Sanchez (Oswaldo Castillo). As a bit of a surprise for the moviegoers out there who happened to see this film during its scant thirty-four theater run: the film revolves loosely around Adam Carolla’s own experience as a golden glove boxer in his younger years.
I may have railed on Carolla a bit much during the opening paragraph; I honestly have nothing against the man and I admit to finding quite a few moments of The Man Show to be particularly humorous. I just always associated him with mediocre humor that only stoners and beer chuggers could love, however, and never gave him much thought past that. When I saw this film was getting rave reviews, I thought something must be amiss, but I wanted to check it out for myself. While I wasn’t blown away by what I saw, I was rather surprised by how much heart the film had.
The film itself teeters between the edge of believable and unbelievable, but just when you think the films going to turn into some Will Ferrell-esque comedy, you find out that it actually packs a bit of heart in it. That’s key in knowing before viewing The Hammer: it’s as much of a success story about a man as it is a comedy. Sure Carolla and crew belt out a few laughs here and there, but it’s nothing that will have you tearing up and is instead a bit more dry in nature; there are some humorous quips here and there, but aside from a quick appearance by Jane Lynch, you’ll be hard pressed to find any big name talent in the film. Don’t let that deter you, however, as it really is a quirky little film.
I hesitate to compare it to Juno since I enjoyed that film a lot more than this one, but The Hammer almost has the same kind of indie quality to it. It’s not the most eloquently shot film, but it clearly has a lot of heart behind it and that alone makes it a moving picture. How much you enjoy it is largely going to depend on how much you can believe in Carolla’s character and get past that this isn’t merely a burp and fart joke film (there are burp and fart jokes though, don’t worry).
I honestly think I would have been more impressed with the film if my bias wasn’t standing in the way. On one hand I didn’t think Carolla was capable of producing a film this quaint and on the other I had all of the critic’s quotes raving about how wonderful the film was. I let myself get swept up in the buzz, which was my biggest mistake, but I still managed to enjoy it. I think my biggest qualm with the film was that I just didn’t laugh all that much. When I did it was short lived and because of that I almost want to classify this film as some kind of strange indie/romantic comedy hybrid. Strange times we live in!
One element of the film that was slightly distracting was when there was humor; it seemed to be strung together by various takes. While at the tar pits Carolla’s comments are pasted segments that run together in awkward clip-like form and it slightly ruins the flow of the sequence. Not a huge thing to be certain, especially considering the low-budget nature of the film, but it was just something I noticed that stood out to me while watching it.
Overall the gradual expansion of the film as well as the final outcome made for a sweet little ending and an all-around film that was really just a pleasure to watch. It’s not what I expected and that threw me for a loop, but Carolla really did a fine job on this film both from a writing standpoint as well as acting. Recommended.
The Hammer arrives on DVD by way of Genius Productions. No slipcover or insert is included, but there is a fair share of extras to dig through. The menu system for the film is simple and easy to navigate and the low-budget nature of the film begins to show at times through the video transfer which has a soft nature to it as well as a bit of grain. Audio is a standard 5.1 mix, although the dialogue-driving film means it’s a dialogue-driven mix, focusing the majority on the front channels. Some of the boxing sequences do get some rear channel play, however.
For the extras we first have a commentary with Carolla and writer/co-producer Kevin Hench. This is quite honestly one of the funniest commentaries I’ve ever listened to and is more akin to what I expected from the film itself. Carolla’s constantly cracking jokes, but he always remains informative about the film so no worries about too much off-topic discussion going on; it’s a great track and definitely one to check out if you’re a Carolla fan…or enjoy laughing. If you don’t enjoy laughing then stay away.
Next up are a selection of eight deleted Scenes (9:36) and outtakes that really just act as places to drop some improv elements that were removed from the film. Very few of the segments in the outtakes are really considered to be outtakes and a lot of them aren’t enough to make you laugh very hard. Honestly I would’ve just thrown them all in one file rather than split them up any.
The other extras include “A Conversation with Adam and Ozzie” (17:11) where we learn that Carolla and co-star Oswaldo Castillo have been longtime friends, as well as some other insight into their friendship. “Behind the Scenes Promotional Segments” (10:36), six in all, hosts a share of interviews with cast and crew and “Ozzie's ADR Session” (1:57) is a voice-over only with Carolla and Ozzie. Finally there’s the trailer (2:25) included in anamorphic widescreen.
Overall this is a solid DVD of a very surprising film. While I don’t know how much replay value it has due to the little quirks it has, The Hammer DVD is still Recommended, if only for the extras and hilarious commentary that it includes.
The Hammer arrives on DVD on June 24th.