January 10, 2009

The Wrestler (01/10/09)

Lettergrade: A-

I was in college when I saw an excellent documentary called Beyond The Mat, which followed three guys at various stages of their career in the world of professional wrestling: An older guy who refuses to stop, despite the pleas of his family. An icon of the 80s (Jake "The Snake" Roberts), who has really fallen on hard times, completely estranged from his family and fighting off drug problems. And a younger wrestler on the rise, Mick Foley (aka Mankind, aka Cactus Jack), who gets the crap beaten out of him in match after match while trying to be a responsible father and husband.

The Wrestler was written by Robert Siegel, who was once the editor-in-chief of The Onion. He must have seen that movie back in the day and liked it as well. His lead, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (played by Mickey Rourke) contains a bit of all three guys profiled in Beyond The Mat. It's debatable whether Rourke had to stretch all that much to play Randy The Ram, but regardless the result is mesmerizing, and one of the very best movies of the year for me.

One last thing... the picture was directed by Darren Aranofsky, whom I normally find to be a self-important dickhead. Give it a chance anyway, though. It's actually pretty good.

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