Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Wrestler Review

The Wrestler arrives on DVD today and even though I've yet to pick it up (feel free to buy it for me), I did catch it a few months back in the theater and figured now would be as good a time as any to review it. I'll keep it mostly spoiler free in case you haven't seen it yet.

From the minute the movie begins until the credits roll, you are not watching Mickey Rourke, you are watching Randy "The Ram" Robinson. No one else could've possibly pulled off this role and I think the greatest thing that ever happened to this movie is the fact that Nicolas Cage left the project after being originally cast as The Ram. Not to take anything away from Marisa Tomei or Evan Rachel Wood, who are both terrific, but this is Mickey Rourke's movie. I'm not sure why it took three more years for him to get back in the spotlight after stealing the show in 2005's Sin City, but thankfully people took notice after this amazing performance, the Oscar nomination was definitely well-earned.

The coolest aspect of the movie is that wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans will watch the movie in entirely different ways. For fans, you'll finally get to see a major Hollywood movie that portrays wrestling seriously and accurately. Non-fans will view this movie as the engaging drama that it is, but hopefully they'll also come away with newfound knowledge of professional wrestling and perhaps no longer just look at it as "fake."

While it's important to note that not all professional wrestlers take the dark journey of Randy "The Ram" Robinson, the movie shines on a light on the hardships many of them go through, which hasn't really been done since the brilliant documentary Beyond the Mat, which came out a decade ago. One thing I hopes this movie accomplishes is to show mainstream audiences what exactly many of these guys go through so we can prevent more wrestling tragedies. Any time something bad happens with pro wrestlers, the media just writes it off as "steroids" and moves on. It's an easy scapegoat, but rarely ever the case, but the talking heads don't care about the facts, it's just some "fake wrestler" to them. While there is certainly a seedy underbelly to the business, hopefully The Wrestler can be one of the first things to put a face to it
, making it not quite as easy to dismiss.

While the movie would not have packed the same punch for me personally if it were The Boxer or The Fighter, it's obviously not just a movie about wrestling. Rourke's interactions with his daughter are touching one minute and heart-wrenching the next and Marisa Tomei as the aging stripper is a perfect parallel to The Ram's quest to remain relevant. Make no mistake, it's not just a good movie about wrestling, it's a fantastic move, period.

Anything that gets wrestling more mainstream attention is good news to me and hopefully we can someday see major motion pictures about the other sides of the business. Darren Aronofsky gave us a glimpse of aging wrestlers still trying to make it on the indy scene, now we need a movie about the drama within a major sports entertainment entity. Imagine Any Given Sunday, but instead of football, it's about the drama within a company similar to WWE. So long as no one tries to reboot Ready To Rumble, I hope The Wrestler makes it cool to produce more wrestling films.

I don't like to attach number ratings to any form of entertainment, so I'll just say my final verdict on The Wrestler is that it's definitely worthy purchasing. A phenomenal movie with an instantly classic performance from Mickey Rourke makes it a must-have for any collection.

1 comment:

  1. Great review man!

    Didn't know you had a blog. Pretty sweet!