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The Wrestler

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

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A Mildly Entertaining, If Not Predicable Movie

  • Dec 13, 2009
Rating:
+1
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 watched; we all had our favorites, the good guys, the bad guys and those in between.  So The Wrestler (2008) the much ballyhooed comeback vehicle for Mickey Rourke (Body Heat, Nine ½ Weeks, Wild Orchid) was a must see.                 
 
Story-Line

Directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, Requiem For a Dream) The Wrestler chronicles the failing fortunes of Randy 'The Ram' Robinson a once successful professional wrestler who now lives alone in a rented trailer, works part-time at a super market and wrestles at small venues on the weekends. 

Having alienated his family years ago—principally his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Ward ~ Profiler, Once and Again, Thirteen)—by spending all his time on the road, Ram is a very lonely guy.  The little one-on-one human contact he does have comes from Cassidy (Marisa Tomei ~ My Cousin Vinny, In The Bedroom, Rescue Me) a dancer at the strip club he frequents.  He wants a relationship outside the club, but she demurs; something about not dating the clientele.

But after suffering a heart attack Randy starts to rethink his life and the decisions he’s made and seeks to turn his life around and reconcile with his daughter.            

My Thoughts
 
I did not recognize Mickey Rourke, seriously.  The physical changes in the man are nothing short of astounding; oh the joys of plastic surgery and human growth hormone!  But I am sure everyone has made that same observation.  Be that as it may Rourke turns in an outstanding performance as a man sliding painfully into the sunset of his less than golden life.

The wrestling moves and action sequences took me back to yesteryear.  Yes, I have long since given up the ritual, but I can still remember the signature moves, the back and forth of the opponents seeking the upper hand.  The move captures that magic all over again with startling realism.  Ram’s body truly dies take a beating, but he keeps coming back for more.  He knows wrestling is all there is for him; life has lost its meaning outside the comfortable cocoon.

And therein lies the problem with The Wrestler, Ram is not smart and neither is the movie.  The movie is predictable and that makes it less entertaining, and the character less likeable.  I wanted to feel sorry for Ram, and for a while I was rooting for him, but towards the end he lets me down by his failed attempt at redemption and I wrote him off. 

Rourke’s performance was not the issue, it’s the script, but I supposed I expected too much; I wanted a feel good ending and one is not forthcoming. Rourke’s stellar performance is bolstered by that of Ms. Tomei who turns in a risky, edgy, noteworthy performance and the aging single mother/exotic dancer who wants to be with Ram, but can’t find a way because she has to make a living. 

In the end The Wrestler constantly holds out the hope of redemption, even as it obscures any concept of what that redemption might look like.  Ram is a simple man whose life has been sharply etched by his Randy 'The Ram' Robinson persona.  He is incapable of getting out his own way long enough for redemption to take firmly take hold; typical (disappointing) human behavior.  Perhaps after all the hype surrounding The Wrestler, I expected more.   

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More The Wrestler (2008 film) reviews
review by . August 27, 2011
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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
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**** 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
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      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
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review by . July 15, 2009
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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
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Mickey gives the kind of performance that we all knew he still had in him. Marisa Tomei was equally amazing.
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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 08, 2009
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Wiki

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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Details

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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