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The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky's 2008 dramatic film about a down and out professional wrestler.

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A Gripping Look into the Lifestyle of Professional Wrestling, but a Little Over Hyped...

  • Dec 8, 2009
  • by
Growing up a wrestling fan and knowing the business inside and out, The Wrestler hit home in a lot of ways.  I wasn't just a wrestling fan, I used to idolize these guys and perhaps one day, be one of them.  As I got older and was able to differentiate what was real and what was fake, I felt I was able to connect even more with them and what they go through because of all the inner politics that go on in the industry.  The minute the film started, I was blown away at just how well Darren Aronofsky was able to portray the business.  Whether that was from the up and coming guys point of view or Mickey Rourke's gripping portrayal of a washed up wrestler way past his prime.  When "The Ram" first hit the screen, it immediately brought me back to thinking about guys like Terry Funk or Jake the Snake Roberts who also decided to try and wrestle past their prime and paid some prices for it along the way.  More than anything else, The Wrestler and Mickey Rourke's role as The Ram bring an honest eye on the harsh environment the professional wrestling industry can sometimes be. 

Working indy shows on the weekend, Randy "The Ram" Robinson is just getting by as he is way past his prime.  On every possible pain medication he can find, The Ram is holding on by a string.  When one of the promoters Randy works with asks him to do a 20th anniversary rematch with his former rival The Ayatolla (played by professional wrestler Ernest Miller), the man he sold out Madison Square Garden with back in the 80's, he jumps at the opportunity.  Shortly after he is asked, Randy is involved in a hardcore match that involves using thumbtacks, staple guns, barbed wire and tables.  Not used to this form of wrestling entertainment, The Ram suffers a heart attack, leading to bypass surgery and subsequently his "retirement" from pro wrestling.  While working in a grocery store, Randy starts feeling the itch to back in the ring and have the anniversary match.  The Ram must now decide where his priorities lie; Should he stay retired and keep seeing long time stripper friend Pam (Marisa Tomei) and get to know his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood)...or follow his heart and get back in the ring?

Randy "The Ram" Robinson is a prime example of wrestlers who just don't know when to hang up their boots.  Mickey Rourke definitely picked the right movie to make his comeback with as his role as a washed up pro wrestler was almost to convincing.  Throughout the film, it felt more like a real documentary following this wrestlers life as he tries to mount a comeback.  Darren Aronofsky seemed to get everything right, from up and coming guys asking The Ram for advice on how to make it big, to all the drugs and painkillers that are involved in the sport.  Let's face it, wrestling may be scripted and the outcome fixed, but these guys get hurt just as badly as football players, if not more so.  It's ironic how Aronofsky picked a heart attack as The Ram's fall from grace seeing as how many greats have died of heart problems, one of them being the late great Eddie Guerrero.

My main reason for saying this film was a bit overrated is actually because of Marisa Tomei.  The Oscar hype she got for this film seems very misplaced as she was mediocre at best in her role.  Sure, she played a convincing stripper, but there was nothing about her otherwise that made the character easy to get attached to.  From what was shown on film, it seemed that Pam was supposed to have some care for The Ram, but it just didn't come through.  Take the "girlfriend" out of the film and you get a movie that is most definitely best picture worthy.  The B story with Randy's daughter was enough to say that Tomei's character could have been cut from the film all together.  While that may sound harsh, with no disrespect to Marisa Tomei, Pam was not a well written character.

Take away a not very well written character, you have an excellent piece of film making in The Wrestler.  No matter what, this is a must see and even more so for any wrestling fan.  It may help shed some light on aspects of the business you may not have understood before.  Mickey Rourke will have you cheering for him in this tear jerker.  This ins't your average comeback story, most comebacks are a lot cleaner than what you'll see in Darren Aronofsky's almost documentary style film.  Not sure if it deserved all the hype that it got, but it's an amazing film none the less.  One thing is for sure; if you're a wrestling fan, you'll never watch the WWE the same way again, 3/5!
A Gripping Look into the Lifestyle of Professional Wrestling, but a Little Over Hyped...

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More The Wrestler (2008 film) reviews
review by . August 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I gotta find some of Randy's old matches on Collisum Video
One of thing things I learned after following pro wrestling a few years back is what happened to those names I used to hear about all the time like Jake Roberts and Lex Luger.  I never heard about them dying considering what big names they are, and then I learned a bitter truth.  Those big names and they're big lifestyles came crashing down.  Jake Roberts and Lex Luger were the inspirations for the character of Randy "The Ram" Robinson who is the focus of The Wrestler.   …
review by . February 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****      Well, this is rather surprising; Darren Aronofsky directing a sports flick. How about that? So how well does this little stunt pull off? Well, I'll tell you, and believe me; you're going to be surprising. As it turns out, Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" is no stunt at all, but that's not to say that it's the kind of film that you'd expect out of the guy either. Mr. Aronofsky's follow-up to his ambitious, flawed, but indefinitely artsy "The Fountain" proves to …
review by . July 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      THE WRESTLER      There have been films made before about wrestling and by wrestling I mean pro wrestling, but none like this. This film is the portrait of a man who is coming to terms with his own mortality, literally and also for his craft. There have been many things said about this movie but there seems to be one constant, and that is Mickey Rourke's masterful performance. For those who have not seen this I can tell you right now that he was …
Quick Tip by . August 27, 2011
Washed up 80's wrestling superstar copes with his rockstar days long gone and living day to day in a very non glamorous life. Runs the rollercoaster of touching, hard, fun and sad.
review by . July 15, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Yin and Yang
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!      There are certain fundamental aspects of American culture in the 1980s that I found to be, for lack of a better word, repugnant. The crassness of commercialism was everywhere, politics went straight to hell as Reaganites celebrated American Right-wing supremacy, music fans suffered through the pangs of the glam rock movement and the superficiality and the hedonistic excesses that it embraced, and the yuppies on Wall Street were idealized …
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Mickey gives the kind of performance that we all knew he still had in him. Marisa Tomei was equally amazing.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Powerful movie that depicts the side of wrestling and sports that we may not think about, getting older and dealing with trying to continue doing something you love.
review by . February 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
movie poster
Stories that delved into the inner human spirit and tales about redemption have been beloved by critics since anyone can remember. Small wonder, since films that exhibit pure humanity can undoubtedly touch the hearts of audiences--it is a premise that is both fascinating and quite easy to relate to. Inspired by the documentary "Beyond the Mat", director Darren Aronofsky's "The WRESTLER" is a film with a lot of things to say, and may well be Mickey Rourke's best performance; this role may indeed …
review by . December 28, 2009
This movie was a huge and pleasant surprise for me.  I thought it would be more about the wrestling sport/soapstory.  Instead we get a compelling tale of a man that was so into the wrestling game that he ignored the rest of his life.  Mickey Rourke plays a wrestler nicknamed The Ram, who can no longer persue wrestling so he soon realizes that his "real" life is total misery and he really has nothing outside of wrestling.        Ram tries to rekindle …
review by . December 13, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Outstanding performances by principles; great supporting cast.      Cons: Predictable; slow in places     The Bottom Line: After all the hype surrounding The Wrestler, I expected more.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. When I was growing up watching professional wrestling on Saturday afternoons was a ritual in our neighborhood.  All of the “guys” on the street …
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Julian Brown ()
Ranked #33
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this movie


Robin Ramzinski, ring name Randy "The Ram" Robinson, (Mickey Rourke) is a professional wrestler who was a major star in the 1980s but is now years past his prime and wrestling on the weekends for various independent wrestling promotions in the Elizabeth, New Jersey area. After a show, a promoter proposes a 20th anniversary rematch with his most notable opponent, the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller), who now owns a used car dealership in Arizona. Their first match together sold out Madison Square Garden, and Randy agrees to the rematch, wishfully thinking this high-profile match could help him get back to the top.
  • Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" Robinson/Robin Ramzinski
  • Marisa Tomei as Cassidy / Pam
  • Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie Ramzinski
  • Todd Barry as Wayne
  • Ernest Miller as Bob / "The Ayatollah"

Also appearing in the film are actual professional wrestlers: Blue Meanie, Johnny Valiant, Ref Hanson, Tommy Rotten, Andrew Anderson, Brolly, Danny Inferno, Necro Butcher, Mike "RAGE" Miller, Paul E. Normus (who died in early 2009), Nick Berk, DJ Hyde, Havoc, Johnny Mangus, Billy Dream, Eric Cobian, Sabian, Nate Hatred, Sugga, L.A. Smooth, Whacks, Devon Moore, The Funky Samoans, Jay Lethal, Jim Powers, Kid USA (as Randy's stunt double), Ron Killings, Claudio Castagnoli, Romeo Roselli, John Zandig, Chuck Taylor and Nigel McGuinness.

The Wrestler is a 2008 drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Robert D. Siegel, and starring ...
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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sport
Release Date: December 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Robert D. Siegel
DVD Release Date: April 21, 2009
Runtime: 109 minutes
Studio: Wild Bunch, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Protozoa Pictures
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