THE WRESTLER review
There are few things in my life that have been there since I was born and Pro Wrestling ranks as one of the highest. My grandmother watched wrestling and in turn I did too. I still remember the first match I ever really got into being Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat. I watched ever since, the only time I didn’t watch was when Hulk Hogan beat Triple H(my favorite wrestler next to HBK) for the title. I usually watch all the programs that come on and have been to WWE live shows and some smaller independent shows. I’ve helped put rings up and have met my fair share of wrestlers and promoters. That being said this movie blew me away. When I first heard that Darren Aronofsky was directing a movie about a down in out wrestler I admit I was a little worried. I had went into Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN expecting to love it and I wanted to scream it was so boring and non linear towards the end. So when I first started the movie I couldn’t believe how ‘inside’ it was. If you’ve ever seen the excellent documentary BEYOND THE MAT then you know how bad the “has been” and “never were” guys have it. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought Aronofsky had been a wrestling fan his whole life. Say what you will but this men and women put their bodies on the line to entertain the people. In a world where actors and actresses get upset that craft services doesn’t have exactly what they ask for that’s incredible. I did hear rumblings that Vince McMahon “hates” the movie but I hope he’s not that insulated from his own business that he doesn’t recognize that this happens to 90% of pro wrestlers. It’s only about 10% that make it to TV and to headline Wrestlemania. Then again maybe he hates it because it shines a light on the downside of the business, once your used up your dumped and replaced by a younger model. There are those who can delay that fact, but most of them have sadly done so by using their backstage politics to stay in that position.
The movie has such a light handed touch that it fells more like a documentary than a feature film. I can’t review this without talking about the performances of the lead actors. I’ve only seen a few Mickey Rourke movies and most of those were the god awful stuff that littered dusty video store shelves and late night Cinemax. In this I see why he was once considered the best of his peers. His protrayal of Randy The Ram was filled with underlying rage and disappointment at his current situation. Can I just say that Marisa Tomei is still as hot as she ever was, and she was spectacular as the “stripper with a heart of gold” that litters so many indy movies it’s a cliche. I have to say that the conversation between The Ram and the neighborhood kid about Call of Duty 4 was so perfect that I’ll never forget it. I did enjoy seeing some wrestlers I knew in the movie, Ernest ‘the Cat’ Miller as the Ayatollah, and former now current WWE superstar R-TRUTH. Everything can’t be so stellar, I could see where the coked out sexual romp was going a mile away but it was alright. I also kinda wish that the movie woulda had a few more minutes, at least in ROCKY they gave him a chance to celebrate even though he lost. This movie is more ROCKY BALBOA than ROCKY so the ending didn’t infuriate me, it just made me want to get a more “complete” story. Still the movie is one of my favorites of ’08.
CHARLES GRADE: A-
PROS:MICKEY ROURKE, MARISA TOMEI, SHOWING WRESTLING AS FIXED BUT VERY REAL
CONS: THE ENDING WAS CUT A FEW MINUTES TOO SHORT, A FEW PLOT POINTS WERE REALLY OBVIOUS AND BY THE NUMBERS