The most surprising thing to come out of Thursday's slate of films at the Tribeca Film Festival may have been the realization that Adam Carolla can pull off being the leading man in a romantic comedy. Carolla, previously known for encouraging women in tank tops to jump on trampolines for Comedy Central's "The Man Show," plays a freshly dumped, unemployed 40-year-old amateur boxer named Jerry in The Hammer. And he makes Jerry appealing. Almost as surprising was finding out Carolla boxes in real life.
Carolla rallied the big guns to stump at his premiere in the form of Howard Stern and Stern's sidekick Robin Quivers. Stern, who never let go of fiancée Beth Ostrovsky for the length of the red carpet, took time with every reporter to extol the virtues of his friend. But what does he think of Adam cast as a leading man? "I don't believe it! I'm in shock! I passed out when I found out," Stern exclaimed when asked. With that Ostrovsky squeezed his hand and purred, "He's kidding." Stern admitted, "I tease because I love," and quickly went back to the other topic close to his heart, loudly declaring, "Sanjaya should have won!"
After Stern came director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, who summed up Carolla's appeal as he sees it. "Adam has a Humphrey Bogart kind of thing. He has a Walter Matthau energy. He's the loveable curmudgeon." Loveable curmudgeon works.
The movie was also unexpectedly enjoyable thanks to some hilarious moments in Kevin Hench's script and the general existence of Carolla's heavily accented Nicaraguan sidekick Oz. Executive produced by Carolla (perhaps no one else imagined him pulling off leading man, either) the film is largely inspired by Carolla's life. It turns out Oz coaching his boxer friend to "Yab! Yab!" was not merely a gimmick. Just as Carolla was once an unemployed carpenter/amateur boxer living in the valley, Oz is based on and played by Carolla's real life friend Oswaldo Castillo. The real Oz, like the Oz he plays on film, came from Nicaragua in the 80's and met Carolla while doing construction. Having never been in a film before, no one appeared more excited at the premiere than Castillo.
If you like Adam Carolla, boxing, romantic comedies or films like Kissing Jessica Stein, which also shares a leading lady in the form of Heather Juergensen, you'll probably like The Hammer, too.
For more HuffPost coverage of the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, go here.
- Katherine Thomson