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Gary Younge
'Bad taste' film proves to be a surprise hit

But while some have complained about its lack of taste, The Ringer has earned rave reviews from disabilities groups and been hailed as a "historical" breakthrough by the Special Olympics Committee. It made $8.4m (£4.8m) in its first week.

"When we first pitched it to 20th Century Fox, of course they had some concerns about it," said Bobby Farrelly. "But we knew it was a great story that played out well and that there was nothing wrong with it. They said: 'Yeah, but the people who aren't going to see it don't know that.' That was the real fear."

Fox said they would make the film if the brothers could get the Special Olympics Committee on board.It took seven years.

"This film is making history," Margaret Larsen, president and chief executive of Special Olympics Texas, based in Austin, told the Chicago Tribune. "We approve of the film's message and we're very happy that it shows the athletes as normal, real-life people who can do anything they try."

Mr Farrelly said: "What always bugged me about movies about these people is they are always tearjerkers - they're always sad. What we were pitching was showing the fun of being in the Special Olympics."

Leonard Flowers, 33, a real Special Olympian who is in the film, thought it was "very funny"but objected to the repeated use of the word "retarded".

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