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Before becoming a comedian and gaining fame as the host of radio's Loveline and television's The Man Show, Adam Carolla spent many years bouncing from job to job. At various times, he was a boxing instructor and carpenter, and it's from this history that Carolla, writer Kevin Hench and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld have given us The Hammer. In an underdog comedy about a former promising boxer, now construction worker, Carolla's Jerry Ferro is forced to come to terms with his directionless life as he reaches his 40th birthday. Circumstance leads to an encounter with venerated boxing coach Ernie Bell (Tom Quinn), who trains a young fighter preparing for the U.S. Olympic trials. Convinced to spar a few rounds with the young hopeful, former Golden Gloves fighter Ferro finds himself in the ring for the first time in 20 years. But it all comes back as Ferro knocks the fighter to the canvas, and Bell offers him a shot to keep training and participate in the Olympic trials himself. Leaving his former life, Ferro embarks on the unthinkable: recapturing his lost youth by matching up against boxers two decades his junior in an attempt to make the team. Herman-Wurmfeld keeps the laughs coming at a steady pace, while a skillfully integrating an endearing romance between Ferro and Lindsay Pratt (Heather Juergensen). Carolla's sweet and mild-mannered performance gives The Hammer its heart, and he is ably supported by the rest of the cast. The Hammer is a successful mixture of the fishout- of-water and coming-of-age tales, and yet its simple twists on these stories is what makes it so enjoyable.
Director's Statement Collapse
Adam Carolla doesn't fit into a neatly labeled box, and neither do I. This lay at the heart of my strong interest in working with him on The Hammer. Thirteen years ago, Adam was swinging a hammer and laying carpet, when he really wanted to be standing in front of a camera, making people laugh. He was told the grim odds and forged ahead anyway. Even when he'd made it from radio onto television, he decided he wanted to make movies. People again told him the grim odds and once again he figured out a way. Similarly, when I first arrived in Los Angeles I had $300 in my pocket and a worn-out bicycle which got me, just barely, to meetings. People told me a theatre director from San Francisco, best known for rock operas, would never be allowed to direct a feature film. After successfully directing Kissing Jessica Stein, those same people then told me not to bother pursuing genres other than romantic comedy, that it was indisputably now my "niche." Yet I persevered, and by the time shooting finished on The Hammer, I had become a connoisseur of the pee-joke and knew how to shoot (and deliver) a killer uppercut.
As the LA Times stated in January of this year, "Carolla's primary subject has always been class, the mannerisms and material ambitions that accompany that great American pastime known as socioeconomic striving." Jerry, Adam's Character in The Hammer, is the anti-striver, a man who is too lazy (or, on another level, too humble) to fight for the American Dream. He is a man who has given up. As Jerry says point blank, "Success is not in my DNA". Having given up the standard fight, both Adam and Jerry embody everymen who find alternative personal paths to lives within mainstream conventional society. Jerry Ferro represents the underdog we all wish we could be -- one with a biting wit and an unerringly comic world view that disarms and endears.
The Hammer is a tale of challenging yourself, of forcibly birthing dreams with determination, humor and wily creativity, regardless of what the world says is possible. It's a unique sports movie with a big beating heart. It also aptly illustrates what boxing fans have long known: the fight game is largely a metaphor for human survival in a brutal world that could care less about our unique yearnings and individual dreams. Finally the battle resides in the heart, as we all strive to conquer fear, laziness, and lack of courage.
The story was Adam's brainchild while the script was crafted by consummate wordsmith Kevin Hench, a kindred spirit to Adam who shares his love of a good rant. This is my second movie with Heather Juergensen, co-star and co-writer of Kissing Jessica Stein, as well as Adam's romantic interest in The Hammer, and third movie with my sister and long time producer, Eden Wurmfeld. Without them, I never would have had the pleasure of telling this story -- or offering it to you.
Film Information Collapse
[HAMME] | 2007 | 88 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Foreign Title: (The Hammer)
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About the Director(s)Collapse
CHARLES HERMAN-WURMFELD began his career in San Francisco, where he and sister Eden Wurmfeld launched their prolific, long-term creative collaboration with the micro-budget film Fanci's Persuasion. In San Francisco, Herman-Wurmfeld also made a splash by developing and directing a series of rock operas. He has nimbly moved from edgy low-budget projects to high-profile studio offerings. His hit indie film Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) won a Critics Special Jury Award and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2001 Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as numerous audience awards at other festivals. Herman-Wurmfeld went on to helm Legally Blonde 2, starring Reese Witherspoon. His television work includes Comedy Central's Stella, now on DVD; and The Facts of Life Reunion. He and Eden are currently in production with Hilary Swank and Plum Pictures on Laws of Motion.