The Hammer

In this welterweight romantic comedy, Adam Carolla (whose story was the source for Kevin Hench’s script) essentially plays himself as a wisecracking carpenter and presumably washed-up amateur boxer who might actually have a shot at fighting in the Olympics. Mostly, it’s a showcase for Carolla’s observational and slyly cerebral humor, and for the unpretentious charm and breezy chemistry between him and his adorable Nicaraguan sidekick (Oswaldo Castillo), his athletic rival (Harold House Moore), and his love interest (Heather Juergensen), a lawyer he picks up in a boxing class. Director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld has transcended the stiffness of his on-the-cheap 2002 indie debut, Kissing Jessica Stein (perhaps in part by directing Legally Blonde 2 the following year); here he keeps the action moving, if sometimes clumsily, and the tone charitable. All The Hammer really adds to the boxing-movie canon is the refreshing air of not worrying about adding anything to the boxing-movie canon. That, and being funny.

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