The Wrestler

The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler piledriven by mediocrity

One of last year’s most critically acclaimed films is soon to be released on DVD. Beginning April 21st, you can purchase your copy of The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke. The question is though, should you purchase it?

When I first heard that the film was going to be made, I was ecstatic. While I am a huge movie fan, I’m an even bigger wrestling fan, watching it religiously for nearly 25 years. Occasionally my two interests have merged, as over the years there have been dozens of films produced about the world of professional wrestling. Without exception, these films have all been five star classics. Sadly, that streak has come to an end with the release of The Wrestler.

The Wrestler tells the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who was a big wrestling star in the ‘80s. Times have been tough since then for Randy. He wrestles on the weekends in tiny arenas in front of a few hundred people, while holding down a job as a butcher the rest of the week. He lives in a trailer park – at least when he remembers to pay the rent. What money he has goes towards paying for steroids, cocaine and lap dances from his favourite stripper Cassidy.

Marisa Tomei plays Cassidy (whose real name is Pam). Marissa received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for this role, but did not receive the Oscar. The Academy made the right decision in my humble opinion. No offense to Tomei, but if I wanted to see a 44-year-old with nipple piercings dancing around seductively, I would go visit my Uncle Timothy. It takes more than taking off your clothes to truly embody the spirit of a stripper, Ms. Tomei. If you want to see how it’s done, get yourself a copy of Showgirls. That Elizabeth Berkeley is one hell of an actress.

Still image from The Wrestler
Getting back to “The Ram”, Mickey Rourke might be the only one who could have played the character as it was written. After suffering a heart attack, “The Ram” reconnects with the daughter he hasn’t seen in years, and then blows off the plans they made together for dinner, so he can snort cocaine and have dirty sex with a groupie in the bathroom of a bar. It wouldn’t take too much of a stretch of my imagination to see Rourke embarking in those types of shenanigans.

Don’t get me wrong, Rourke does an adequate job with the material he was given. I just wish he was given something better, something that was more flattering to the sport of professional wrestling. With all the drugs and promiscuous sexuality in the film, Andre The Giant must be rolling in his grave. Incidentally, did you know that Andre’s grave is large enough to house that crazy lady Nadya Suleman and all of her 14 children? That’s a fact you are only going to get from reading the Cinema Connoisseur’s column. The New York Times review of The Wrestler doesn’t mention anything about Octo Mom shacking up with the corpse of Andre The Giant.

Now I know wrestlers aren’t perfect – well, except for “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. I just wish they were portrayed in a more positive light in this film. Couldn’t they have gotten a more pleasant out of work actor than Mickey Rourke to play the lead? What about Chevy Chase, or Fred Savage? Or better yet, why not the most famous wrestler of them all, Hulk Hogan. Now that would have been a performance worthy of an Oscar.

The Wrestler tried vainly to be in the main event, but instead ended up losing in the opening match to a man wearing furry shorts and face paint. In this case, that man wearing furry shorts and face paint is represented by the 2006 film Nacho Libre. That Jack Black is such a delightful scamp.

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