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Thoughts on "The Wrestler" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 12, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Full price. It's worth the extra charge to watch Mickey Rourke absolutely nail the part of Randy "The Ram" Robinson. The film itself is also quite good.

{Editor's Note: I wrote this review yesterday afternoon, prior to Rourke winning a Golden Globe for Best Actor last night.}

Will I Own It On DVD: Yes. I've been a Rourke fan for a long time, so it was great to see him reclaim the potential where he began his career back in the 80s with "Body Heat," "The Pope of Greenwich Village" and "Diner."

1) "The Wrestler" takes on a subject - professional wrestling - that was overdue for cinematic examination. It is a fascinating take on a "fake" sport where the matches might be fixed, but the pain is very, very real. This character study focuses on Rourke, who plays a one-time wrestling superstar whose glory days are long past, yet he continues to struggle in third-rate venues trying desparately to retain the cheers from the crowd.

2) The film rests entirely on Rourke's performance, and he pushes material which could have easily veered towards cliche or maudlin territory firmly into great heights of emotion.

The parallels between Rourke's own career and that of Randy "The Ram" are impossible to ignore, however, he never once cheapens the performance by asking you to feel sorry for a man struggling against time that has passed him by.

3) Rourke's body and face are also impossible to ignore. The actor looks nothing like he once did, and his misshapen face, which looks like silly putty stretched in various directions, shows every scar he's earned along the way. It has been altered enough that one might worry about his ability to manipulate it to dig into the emotional core of such a character, but it's a testament to his own abilities that everything comes straight through to the audience.

His body has also been enlarged for the role. It is fitting and somewhat enlightening to watch the transformation that must occur to be a wreslter, someone who the crowd expects to be part Superman and certainly a bit cartoonish. The tools that get Rourke there include steroids, hair dye, full-body shaving, excessive tanning and the film shows the maintenance needed for the up-keep, especially as you age.

4) The supporting cast is also uniformly excellent as Evan Rachel Wood and Marissa Tomei round out the people in Rourke's life outside of the ring. Tomei plays an aging stripper, and the actress displays excellent chemistry with Rourke while giving her character weight in a somewhat thinly-drawn role.

Besides turning in several fine performances the past few years ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), I'm also finding Tomei sexier every time I see her as she is far more attractive now than when she was starting in the business with "My Cousin Vinny."

5) The soundtrack to "The Wrestler" is also stellar, and captures a lot of fun 80s hair-metal music like Quiet Riot, Ratt, Guns N Roses and others. Bruce Springsteen also penned a tune that ends the film, which is really good and will likely be Oscar-nominated.

"The Wrestler" is a low-key gem of a movie. Rourke definitely deserves an Oscar nomination as he wears this role like a second skin, and by the end of the movie, if you're not pulling for his character to leap from the turnbuckle one more time, then you are one cold-hearted son of a bitch.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Crack Boom Bang gave this a good review as well. Also being a Marissa Tomei fan since "My Cousin Vinnie", I'll have to check this one out for multiple reasons.

  3. Linda Says:
  4. I agree with you on this one. The Ram was a great character. Rourke was lucky he was pursued for this one. Be interesting to see where his career goes from here. I especially liked the ending of this movie.

  5. I've read nothing but rave reviews about this movie. Someone else (I think it was The Sports Guy) said that it was a part that nobody but Mickey Rourke could've pulled off that well. I'll definitely watch it now that I know Marisa Tomei plays an aging stripper. Like you, I think she's even hotter now than she was earlier in her career.

  6. Heff - It was good, and I'm with you on Tomei as I've always liked her yet only recent thought she was sexy. She definitely is in this film.

    Linda - I agree. I heard Rourke signed up for Iron Man 2, which might be an OK choice, but I also heard about some Stallone picture, which is not. I thought the ending was very good too.

    Native Minnow - I agree as Nicolas Cage was going to be in it for awhile, and it wouldn't have been nearly as good. And yes, I definitely agree about Tomei being hotter now & she proves it here. No doubt about that one.

  7. Miss Ash Says:
  8. Hmm I used to be into the WWF back when I was about 12....I'd rather watch something else now.

  9. JLee Says:
  10. I am a Rourke fan and can't wait to see this one. I almost did this weekend, but saw "Seven Pounds" which is so-so.

  11. Miss Ash - I figured you'd be even more intrigued with guys in spandex now . . . Ha. I used to enjoy it as a kid as well, but haven't watched it in many, many years. Regardless, you don't have to like it to enjoy this movie.

    Jlee - I figured 7 lbs looked so-so at best as I read some fairly savage reviews. I hope the surprise ending was worth it because it stinks when you waste screen time and then end with a clunker. I hope you enjoy 'The Wrestler' when you catch it.

  12. Boxer Says:
  13. It's on my short list - I remember when he attempted to have a career as a boxer. He also owns several chihuahuas and once there was a picture of him in a tabloid out to lunch with his dog. I've always loved his work and I'm glad he's found a way back into movies.

    Now, as for his terrible plastic surgery.....

  14. slopmaster Says:
  15. damn it! I left a comment and it didn't show up!

    anyway, people are talking about this movie so I'll have to watch it, but mostly for tomei and her nude scene... there is a nude scene right?

  16. Romany Angel Says:
  17. You do this review thing really well B. I am going to a movie next week that I want to see (as opposed to what I get dragged to)and I had several options. Thanks to you I've bumped Seven Pounds in favour of this one.

    Marisa Tomei looks incredible in that pic. Some of us just age gracefully *insert grin*.

  18. Boxer - Surgery aside (and some of it was supposedly due to the boxing and I think (think?) that his boxing record was semi-respectable), Rourke was great in this movie. And I should have considered the Chihuahua connection because the man definitely loves them as he even thanked them in his Golden Globe acceptance speech. It's definitely worth a look.
    Slopmaster - It's worth a look, although you could also wait for DVD. And yes, Tomei shows all her assets in the movie (well, not quite all, but still . . . ). Check it out when you get a chance.
    Romany Angel - Thanks, although I hate to have you start bumping movies when they are YOUR choice. Ha. I've heard 7 Pounds is just OK, but if the plot of 'The Wrestler' doesn't grab you, then maybe you should keep the order. I think the acting is great in the 'Wrestler,' and the story is very good, but it is very much a somewhat slow-moving character study (sometimes I have to be in the proper mood for these). Just wanted to make sure I laid all the cards on the table for your choice. And finally, Tomei looks great in the movie & it is certainly an attribute to age gracefully.:) I believe it to be true.

  19. Boxer Says:
  20. I read a "Worst Movies of the Year" list that had 7 Pounds on it, so I vote that R.Angel sees this instead.

  21. Boxer - I know. I've seen it on a few lists as I was being charitable with it looking OK. :) I actually figured it couldn't be that bad from the previews, but I've read some savage reviews.

  22. Romany Angel Says:
  23. Thanks Boxer ~ I appreciate that and to you too B. I rarely get to see anything that isn't G rating so I would hate to waste my choice :)

  24. Romany Angel - No problem, and I hope you enjoy it.

  25. Blogger Says:
  26. I've just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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