Farrelly Brothers' New Movie Gets Unlikely Support

It might seem shocking that the latest movie from the Farrelly brothers -- creators of crass-film comedies like "There's Something About Mary" -- was made with the cooperation of the Special Olympics.

"Is there a risk that someone will find that we, in the name of our movement, Special Olympics, have made a mistake?" said chairman Tim Shriver. "Yeah, there's a risk."

After all, disability-rights groups have complained about the the brothers' portrayal of schizophrenia in the movie "Me, Myself and Irene."

Their new film, "The Ringer," stars Johnny Knoxville as a con man faking a mental disability to fix the Special Olympics.

This is a subject the Farrelly brothers feel passionately about. They volunteer with the mentally challenged, and they were convinced that for this movie to have an impact, it needed the Special Olympics' credibility and cooperation. It took them five years to get it.

"Every time you see a movie about people with intellectual disabilities, they're portrayed -- it's a tear-jerker," said Peter Farrelly, the film's producer. "It's sad. It's depressing. We wanted to throw something out there that was uplifting."

Unlikely Support

"The Ringer" stars many disabled actors who point out Knoxville's character is almost always the butt of the joke. In one scene, his character asks another Special Olympian: "How come guys like us never get the girl?" He hears the reply: "Don't lump me in with you."

"They treated us with respect, and they treated us like normal people," said actor John Taylor.

Actor Eddie Barbanell agreed. "That's what I want to see. People laughing with us, not at us or poke fun at us," he said.

The marketing for "The Ringer" looks like any other Farrelly brothers' feature of questionable taste, but most disability-rights groups are supporting the movie.

"It's about reaching the mass market with a message that helps people see people with disabilities as -- just like you and me -- as human beings," said Andy Imparato, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities.