You’d be forgiven for missing this one.  A comedy with a little drama starring Adam Carolla as a nearly-was boxer trying to make the U.S. Olympic team, The Hammer had a very limited release earlier this year and likely wasn’t near the top of anyone’s must-see list.

But the movie is surprisingly decent.  Carolla plays a boxer turned construction worker with a fear of success.  Flaking out of the Olympics as a youth, he happens into a spot on a regional Olympic squad training for the U.S. Olympic qualifiers.  Along for the ride are a happy-go-lucky friend, a coach who doesn’t quite believe in him, a fellow boxer in the same weight class (who doesn’t like Carolla, but then learns to respect him), and a love interest (Heather Juergensen).

The best parts of the movie were Carolla’s riffs.  Reined in throughout pretty much the entire movie, the few spots where Carolla was allowed a few minutes to joke on something (e.g. the La Brea Tar Pits) stood out as the funniest moments of the movie.  And yet they seem relatively organic.

Kevin Hench’s screenplay (story by Adam Carolla) is helped by being a sports movie, since sports movies are automatically more enjoyable.  Don’t expect any dusty room moments, though.  The movie’s climax is somewhat interesting, if not terribly satisfying, and the ending is definitely Hollywood.  The boxing scenes weren’t all that riveting, to be honest.  Though I suppose it might be a mistake to assume rounds of Adam Carolla boxing would be all that compelling.  The romantic subplot could definitely stand to be tightened up, as is, it sort of feels like filler.  Really, I’d be fine with Carolla being a little more Carolla, though as a leading man, he holds up much better than I expected, not resorting to jokes as a crutch.

Three Stars