Knockout (2011, directed by Anne Wheeler)


15 year-old Matthew Miller (Daniel Magder) is the grandson of a great boxer and would love to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps but his mother (Janet Kidder) would rather that Matthew become a doctor or a lawyer.  Looking at Matthew, who is out-of-shape and wears glasses, it is hard not to think that his mother might have the right idea.

When Matthew transfers to a new school, he’s picked on by a group of bullies led by Hector (Jaren Brandt Bartlett).  Matthew is lucky enough to find a group of fellow outcasts to hang out with but he still feels like something is missing from his high school experience.  He decides to break his mother’s heart and join the school’s boxing club.  The only problem is that Matthew doesn’t know how to throw a punch and Hector is the school’s boxing champion.

It’s a good thing that Dan, the school’s janitor, is both an ex-boxer and that he happens to be played by Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Dan could have been a champion but he retired from professional boxing because he grew tired of the sport’s violent nature.  Now, he’s just a high school janitor who looks out for the bullied and the oppressed.  Dan takes Matthew under his wing and teaches Matthew not only how to throw a punch but how to take one as well.

One of the things that I loved about this movie is that whenever Dan would see Matthew being picked on and he would tell the bullies to stop, the bullies would laugh and say something like, “You’re just the janitor!” or “Shouldn’t you be mopping something up?”  Yes, Dan is just the janitor but he still looks like Steve Austin.  I don’t think even the worst teenage bully is going to look at someone who could obviously crush him without breaking a sweat and say, “Why don’t you take out the trash!?”  When Dan steps up and tosses one of the bullies away from Matthew, everyone is shocked but again, haven’t they looked at him?  He’s Steve Austin.  He’s huge!

If you can suspend your skepticism about anyone outside of professional wrestling talking smack to Steve Austin, Knockout is a predictable but likable movie with a big heart.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, about this movie will take you by surprise.  But the actors are all good and the film wins points from me for having Matthew fall for one of his fellow outcasts instead of having him trying to win over a cheerleader-type.  Plus, you got Steve Austin doing what he does best.  That’s pretty cool.

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