Finally, an adult romantic comedy which examines the state of modern male/female relationships, through the male perspective. In Alex Ranarivelo’s film, Knuckle Draggers starring Ross McCall, Paul J. Alessi, Cuba Gooding Jr., Danielle Nicolet, Jennifer Alden and Amie Barksy, we see what couples actually want versus what they need, and how their needs may not have evolved much from those of our caveman ancestors.

This indie film was a breath of fresh air, especially watching each characters “evolve” throughout the movie. It works outside of mainstream but still has the standard story-line that allows it to be accessible.

Check out the plot, the good, and the bad about Knuckle Draggers:

The Plot:

Knuckle Draggers takes a realistic, and sometimes funny, look at how the behaviors of men and women have evolved very little since the caveman times. When Ethan (McCall), the needy nice guy, is dumped by his fiancee (Alden), he asks his misogynist older brother Kyle (Alessi) to help him win her back. Kyle tries to teach Ethan how to act like “a real man” and to never put a woman on a pedestal. Ethan, being the good guy that he is, is not able to follow his brother’s advice but slowly realizes that Kyle might have a point.

The Good:

  • Paul J Alessi: The chauvinistic, alpha male character is played by the actor so well that you can’t help but hate him throughout the movie. In his world, women want security and men want SEX, it is as simple as that. Although it is easy to hate Kyle, you can’t help but see signs of tenderness, especially when it comes to his brother Ethan. He might not be going at it the right way but he really is just trying to help his brother. He is 100% supportive of his Ethan’s director aspirations and even gets him a director’s chair for his birthday.
  • Acting as a Whole: It is not just Alessi that does a good job bringing life to the character he plays, they all do. McCall plays the sappy love-sick good guy to a tee and really makes you root for his happiness. When forced to meet and flirt with new women, movie-goers can feel the uneasiness Ethan is going through from his facial reactions and body language. Omar Gooding Jr. and Danielle Nicolet have great chemistry with one another, whether they are arguing or making love.
  • Dialogue: The script is filled with lines such as “You don’t have to worry about having kids. Your personality is like personal birth control” (Patricia to Kyle) and “It’s not your fault. You guys are whores by nature.” Not only are the lines clever and humorous, but they have a place in the film and make it more clever.
  • The Idea Behind the Plot: Movies about relationships are usually considered chick flicks and for good reason. You have the heartbroken girl dealing with relationship issues with her girlfriends. Here you have a heartbroken guy dealing with relationship issues with his friends. The difference between the two sexes is evident in this movie. There are no ice-cream nights and cry fests. Ethan is told he should move on by sleeping with as many girls as he can.

The Bad:

  • Lack of Originality: You know what is going to happen most of the time. There is no shock value. You know that **SPOILER ALERT** Kyle is the sexist guy he is because the one woman he truly loved hurt him in the past and he is trying to get revenge on young, naive girls that fall for his BS. Even the so-called twists are predictable.
  • Amateur Feel: I don’t know if it was Ranarivelo as a director or the actors themselves, but there is a sense of amateurism in the film from time to time. I know that I said that the actors were great, but their were moments that felt pushed, like they were eager to make sure the film worked. The only reason I noticed it was because other moments in the film felt so natural and professional, that it felt odd when things dropped down a level.
  • The ending: The whole movie has a cynical attitude towards relationships, then the movie ends in a cliche cheesy way. Although, I love a good happy ending, it just didn’t seem to fit in the context of this story.


Ranarivelo’s film is like an emotional roller-coaster through the good and bad of any male/female relationship. We see what it is like to be single, dating, married and divorced, in the modern world we live in. Kyle’s crash course for his brother Ethan is witty and fun to watch, especially when Ethan asks “Where do you come up with this stuff? The Discovery Channel?” This question might have been another stab at the title of the movie referring to Kyle getting his advice on women watching male Apes deal with their female counterparts. I would recommend watching this movie with some friends and not to take things too seriously because you will miss the point what is otherwise a good movie.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Watch the trailer:

Knuckle Draggers is taking the festival circuit by storm with only three festivals under its belt it has already claimed 5 Awards.  Taking home two “Rising Star” awards – at the Delray Beach Film Festival “Outstanding Feature by a New Filmmaker/ Producer” & “Best Close-up” in a feature film, and from the ReelHeART Film Fest in Toronto Knuckle Draggers grabs  “Best Editing” – Alex Ranarivelo, “Best Feature Film.”

The film just had its Los Angeles premiere on August 12th.

What do you think, is this something you would want to see? Why or why not?