The Wrestler – Review

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I had the fortune to see The Wrestler on the weekend, it’s absolutely fantastic.  I used to watch “professional” wrestling back in the 80s with Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Andre The Giant, etc. and then again in the mid 90s with groups like Degeneration-X, the Hardy Boys, etc.  I went to Wrestlemania X8 (I have the fold up chair to prove it) in the 5th row at SkyDome (now The Rogers Center) and shortly after got a bit disenfranchised with it.  I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you watch alone, and since I moved to Toronto right after that, I didn’t know anyone else who was interested in it, and I just lost interest.

I think coming from that background – I know what a shoot and a spot are, I know who is the face and who is the heel, and I know what is real and what is fake – that I enjoyed The Wrestler even more than someone without that knowledge.  The movie doesn’t talk down to the audience, if you don’t know what those things are, you will have to figure it out.  Not having the typical “new person” who has to be shown the ropes and basically serves to explain the world to the audience, it feels way more real.  This could have been the real life story of any of the big 80s wrestlers, who just sort of disappeared.

This is the story of a fictional version of one of those hugely popular wrestlers who gave everything in the 80s when there wasn’t any money in it, and then fell on hard times as they got older.  Mickey Rourke is flawless in his portrayal of the protagonist Randy “The Ram” Robinson.  Set in 2009 after nearly 20 years of obscurity that followed his biggest pay-per-view event, he struggles to find the things the mean the most in his life.

There are several parts in this film that (unless you are the manliest of men, like me) you will shed a tear or well up, it’s really that powerful a story. Marisa Tomei is fantastic as the older stripper that Randy has a crush on, the scenes of stripper life is dead on (uhh, from what others have told me) and she is smoking hot.

Rating: If you have ever watched wrestling you will probably love this movie, if you thought it was all stupid, this movie should open your eyes to what you were really seeing.  Go see it.

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