04
Feb
09

Movie Review: The Wrestler

wrestler

Yes, it’s true: the fans are fake.

 

Stars Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

 

The movie begins with Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head” while the camera pans over newsclippings and flyers of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke), a wrestler from the 80’s Golden Age of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper and let’s not forget, announcer Mean Gene Oakland. “The Ram’s” career hit its peak with a showdown with wrestler The Ayatollah (Ernest Miller).

 

Cut to “20 years later”. Randy is a broken down being. He takes wrestling gigs when he can find them and “supplements” his income by picking up part-time hours at a local grocery store in New Jersey. When he’s locked out of his trailer park home he resides in his Dodge Ram van. His one friend in town is Pam (Tomei), a stripper who goes by the name Cassidy and who has some feelings for him.

 

And we’re inducted into the world of wrestling through Randy. It’s not all body slams, drop kicks, and rivalries; all the wrestlers meet up before the matches and decide who will do what when the time comes. We see Randy’s drug addiction, prescription and otherwise. He hides small razor bits under the tape around his wrist so at the appropriate time he can cut his face, the blood running down and adding to the “performance.” After one particular match he “drops like a brick” and awakens in a hospital, the recipient of a heart bypass and a doctor’s warning of death if he wrestles again.

 

This starts him attempting to change his life. He spends a day with his daughter, a girl who he hasn’t been around for during his entire career. He tries proposing to “Cassidy” who can’t decide to love him or leave him. And he tries operating behind the meat counter at the grocery store. All these things bring him back to square one: he is a wrestler. With the upcoming 20 year rematch with The Ayatollah, Randy has to make a decision:

 

The main point of the movie is: arrested development. Randy is still doing the wrestling circuit and poppin’ painkillers and other drugs to keep going. He listens to Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Poison and every other hair metal band you can think of. His Nintendo only plays a game of him versus the Ayatollah. He carts around his videotapes and has a Polaroid camera. As he looks around at other wrestlers/ friends, he sees their bodies breaking down (wheelchairs, colostomy bags). He’s lonely, tired, and depressed, and doesn’t know how to do anything that he hasn’t done for the past twenty years.

 

Cassidy is also dealing with arrested development. She’s a stripper in a small town in New Jersey. She has a nine-year-old kid. She wants to do better for her life, but isn’t sure how that will happen. She is cautious in regards to having a relationship. As she looks around she notices that the guys aren’t looking at her much anymore. Is Randy the guy that she needs?

 

I will give credit to Aronofsky for this movie. While I have not been a fan of his previous efforts, this movie was on a level I wouldn’t have believed that he could achieve. He made the film feel like a documentary film, which added to how “real” the character felt. Aronofsky made Rourke disappear into the role, and the film was better for it. It’s a sad, lonely, depressing, surprisingly comical at moments, head-bangin’, body-slammin’ drama.

 

And now I’m going back to working on my standing moonsault, chair shot, and el kabong.

 

My grade: A-

And for those who haven’t seen the trailer:

 

 

And a treat from The Onion:

 

 

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