I watched “The Wrestler” once again last night when it was on cable. I’ve seen it a few times since it came out in 2008 and realized that in all my years of writing about wrestling on the internet I haven’t written a review of it. Keep in mind I don’t write movie reviews and have no plans to make that a regular thing, but I try to see a lot of them every year because I’ve always enjoyed the art of storytelling. Since it’s The Wrestler and this is a wrestling site, I figured I should write a quick review on here.
The Wrestler is a great movie. I feel like it gets better every time I watch it because you can appreciate the pacing of the story. They don’t rush anything. Sometimes you watch a movie and think it went too long or too short. This one feels just right. It was one of the best movies of 2008. I can’t remember anything else from that year that topped it for me. (Note: I partied a lot more in 2008, so I may be forgetting things.)
Amazing performance by Mickey Rourke as Randy The Ram. He really worked his ass off and learned how to wrestle or at least he looked like he could. The matches he had in the movie with the likes of Ernest “The Cat” Miller and others were respectful to the business in that they showed viewers how a match takes place.
Rourke played a broken down wrestling that had health issues and was even told to stop wrestling, but he had a hard time adjusting to the “real world.” The scene where he works at a deli counter captures that aspect of the story perfectly. That’s a moment where you really want to see this guy turn his life around and find something that he loves, which ended up being more wrestling.
There isn’t that deep of a cast in terms of big names, but Marisa Tomei (hey George Costanza) does well as Randy’s stripper friend and the relationship with Randy’s daughter played by Evan Rachel Wood also paints Randy in another light. It would have been easy for Randy’s relationship with his daughter to have a feel good story because we want to see him happy, but not every movie has to have that feel good ending.
Randy’s a flawed character that has a tough time moving on from his fame as a wrestler. It’s a tale we know all too well from being wrestling fans and seeing some wrestlers struggle once they are no longer a major star, but it’s certainly not everybody in the wrestling business. It’s more of a darker story, yet it’s also easy to root for Randy to succeed as well.
Also, I respect the fact that they had a small budget around $6 million and produced such an entertaining film. Proof that story matters. No explosions and CGI green screen needed. The movie made about $45 million at the box office, so it was clearly a success.
I give this movie a coveted rating of 9 suplexes out of 10 (my joke movie rating system) or ****1/2 out of five.
Rourke didn’t win the Oscar for this role, but he did win a Golden Globe and here’s that speech, which was pretty awkward and funny at the same time.