The movie's shockingly tasteless setup is also its secret weapon. Despite many scenes in The Ringer that could individually be viewed as politically incorrect, audiences will be laughing with the athletes most of the time.
Clumsily directed yet entertainingly written by Oakland native Nnegest Likké, Phat Girlz is like "Rocky" with cellulite. Or maybe "Pretty Woman" without all the bony butts. It has a lot of heart and soul, but it's almost never mean-spirited.
Much of the honest dialogue has the same feel as John Hughes' and Cameron Crowe's movies during their best years, while there's a half-serious hipness that recalls the first eight episodes of "The O.C."
Dawson turns out to be a necessary ingredient, propelling the emotional core of the film forward, while somehow convincing the audience that a smart, attractive woman could find a schlub like Dante desirable.