Ringmaster is a 1998 film that is loosely based on the real life Jerry Springer show. The film stars Jerry Springer in his first and only theatrical film that featured him as a leading character. The film co-stars Jamie Pressly as Angel Zorak, Molly Hagan as Connie, Wendy Raquel Robinson as Starletta, Michael Dudikoff as Rusty, Ashley Holbrook as Willy and Michael Jai White as Demond. The film was written by Jon Berenstein and the film was directed by Neil Abramson.
Jerry Farrelly (played by Jerry Springer) is the host of a talk show called Jerry that is loosely based on the real life Jerry Springer show. A white trash trailer park woman named Angel Zorzak (Jamie Pressly) lives with her mother Connie (Molly Hagan) and an urban black woman named Starletta (Wendy Raquel Robinson) live with her boyfriend Demond (Michael Jai White). Not really much of a plot.
Why It Sucks
- Jerry Springer is pretty much playing himself, although he is playing a character named Jerry, but with a different last name.
- The plot is incredibly nonexistent.
- The film tends to focus more on the supporting characters than Jerry's character.
- The primary characters are trashy and behave badly. For example: when Angel threatens a woman who won't cash her the paycheck she received due to the strict policy of not cashing a paycheck to a person who has the unmatchable identity on the identification card.
- The jokes in the film come off as grotesque and unfunny, especially the sex-related humor.
- Incredibly outlandish stories like "I'm Pregnant With Your Husband's Baby!" being broadcast on live television.
- The film apparently tried to be in the tone of National Lampoon, but failed on all levels.
- In one scene, Angel unzips a hotel guest's pants and has oral sex with him. Luckily, the gross activity isn't shown on screen.
- The tagline "America's #1 action hero!" is misleading, because there isn’t that much action in it until the later portions of the film and Jerry isn’t an action star. Even if it's talking about the fights that frequently break out on Jerry's real-life show, those are broken up by security guards; Jerry Springer himself never gets involved.
- Another misleading header on the poster is that Jerry has a bandage on his forehead after a fight. But, his character doesn't get injured in a fight or get bandaged.
- What's more, if you look closely, you can see that both the bandage and hands have been poorly edited onto what presumably is a stock image of Jerry Springer.
- Extremely laughable quotes like when Jerry Farrelly says "I'm the disorder and I've made the big time!"
- Product placement including Frito Lay products.
- Many unresolved conflicts.
- The film consists of many stories about love triangles, adultery among many other tiresome stories that are heard on the real Jerry Springer Show.
- The film is in some ways similar to The Room, but with way more distracting characters that screw up the plot, conflict and story.
- Offensive stereotypical behavior of white trash individuals and African-American individuals.
- The film has nothing funny or insightful to say about Jerry or his real TV series. Even the cameo of Jerry Springer and his real show in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which was released the following year contains far more genuine laughs and bits of satire than this film has in its entirety.
- The film isn't affiliated with the real life "Jerry Springer" show in any way, shape or form. A small box on the back of the DVD and VHS cover clearly states: "All characters and events in this motion picture are entirely fictional, and nothing is intended to depict any actual participant in, or aspect of, "The Jerry Springer Show", which is broadcast on television."
- Jerry had no involvement with writing the film’s script or screenplay. However, he was one of the producers.
- Rusty (Michael Dudikoff's character) is the only character who's smart enough to refuse to go on the show and talk about the relationship issues.
- Jerry's real life show sign-off "Take care of yourself and each other!" is used near the end of the film.
- Certain fans of the real "Jerry Springer" show will probably enjoy seeing a fictionalized version of America's trashiest talk show host.
- Jerry does not mention this film in interviews nor has anyone even mentioned or asked him about this film in his interviews.
Ringmaster was panned by critics and audiences and currently holds a 21% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 3.2 out of 10 and a critic consensus stating: "A crude, idiotic mess of a film."
Film critic Gene Siskel awarded the film with a zero out of four stars and described it in his review title as "Just Another Springer Circus" while Roger Ebert awarded the film with a two out of four stars and stated in his review that the film "doesn't make the mistake of thinking we're much interested in Springer himself. What we want to know--what kind of people would want to be guests on that show?"  On The Worst of 1998 show, Gene Siskel deemed it as his worst film in the Keep Your Day Job! category while Ebert deemed Spice World his worst film in the same category. On IMDb, the film holds a score of 3.1 out of 10.
The film opened at #10 at the box office on its opening weekend of November 27 and made $3,344,022 at the domestic box office on its opening weekend and made an overall gross of $9,247,881 against its $20 million budget making it a box office bomb. The film did do better financially with VHS and DVD sales.
Awards and Nominations
The film managed to win one Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star, which was awarded to Jerry Springer and was tied with Joe Eszterhas as himself in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.