Review: The Wrestler

SPOILER WARNING: This has some.

I actually started off my blogging career covering professional wrestling (under the alias of “Freakboy”), and while my interest in it has dropped as the WWE has continued to suck more and more (though I dig CM Punk and steal most of my image from Edge) I still wanted to see Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.”

I don’t know what a “non-fan” will get from it, but as someone who has followed the sport for most of his life, and has had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the guys, I found the movie to be incredibly moving…and a little bit disturbing.

It’s the story of Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, the top wrestler in the 80’s (think Hulk Hogan) who twenty years later finds himself broke, working odd jobs during the week and small independent shows during the weekend just to scrape by. His daughter hates him, his only friend outside of “the biz” is a stripper who is also past her prime, and after a “hardcore match” where he was wrapped in barbed wire, he had a heart attack.  Got all that?

I was impressed with how they illustrated him being “past his prime” with a near entire 80’s hair metal soundtrack. His entrance music was Quiet Riot, he drove listening to Cinderella, and rocked out to Ratt in the bar. He even had an old Nintendo 8-Bit set up in his trailer. Granted, to some of us, this stuff is all classic. However, in the context of the world around him, they were symbolic of a guy who hasn’t quite come to grips with no longer being who he was in 1988.

Near the end was when I was most moved and/or disturbed. He gives a speech, telling the fans how he does it all for them, and as long as they cheer him he’ll keep performing. We’ve all heard this speech give before and cheered for who was giving it. What we don’t see is the toll these guys put their bodies through “for us,” and the lonely life some of them live. “The Ram” saying he’s fighting “just for us” isn’t the same after hearing a doctor say he could die if he wrestles again.

Oh, and Marissa Tomei shows her titties. Definite upgrade!

The show is getting tons of critical acclaim and was an incredibly told story, so I’m sure any movie fan will enjoy seeing it. However if you are or ever were a wrestling fan, if you’ve ever chanted “holy shit” or “you fucked up” at an independent show, and if you’ve ever had your friends over for one of the PPV’s or followed any of the behind the scenes gossip on the internet (especially  SCOOPS), you owe it to yourself to see “The Wrestler.”

But most importantly, you owe it to the wrestlers themselves.

UPDATE: That should read ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED The Wrestler!

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