Holiday Movie Pre-Reviews, Reviewed: The Wrestler

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12/18/2008 10:00 AM |

[In the L’s Holiday Gift Guide Issue, we presented a Holiday Film Preview of sorts: Reviews of Movies We Haven’t Seen, banking on the predictability of the holiday-movie industrial complex, and also our own tendency to review movies before seeing them. So let’s see how we did. Here, I, who wrote the one on The Wrestler reviewed in the L by Benjamin Strong — compare my preview to my actual response.]

I said…

Aronofsky, second-year film student laureate of Hebrew numerology, glossy magazine spread junkie despair and sub-Castanedan metaphysics, turns his hyperbolizing gaze toward professional wrestling and sees arenas jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. But as deflated steroids-and-spandex spectacle Randy "the Ram" Robinson, Marlboro Man-turned-plastic surgery disaster Mickey Rourke has so much coulda-been-a-contender pathos you almost don’t begrudge Aronofsky for freeze-framing as he’s beaten back against the ropes, arms outstretched in an unmistakable crucifixion pose.

In fact…

This one is not really fair because of course there’s going to be a crucifixion pose. Though in fact it comes when he’s leaping from the top rope, arms outstretched. Also, he has a Jesus tattoo.

Although I just threw the Springsteen quote in because it sounded good, it turns out I was exactly right about it: there’s an (original!) sad-America acoustic Springsteen song that plays over the end credits, fer chrissakes.

And yes of course there’s tons of pathos in Mickey Rourke’s performance as a coulda-been contender, but then again I cried at Once Upon a Time in Mexico* so perhaps I am not the best judge of this. Then again everybody else has been flipping for him in this movie, too, so again it wasn’t much of a stretch. Man, when Mickey Rourke wins the Oscar, and brings his beloved chihuahuas** up on stage with him, that is going to be terrific.

One thing I could not have predicted, though, is that this movie is structured around the lead-up to a 20th anniversary bout between The Wrestler and his long-ago heel. The bout that’s being commemorated took place in April of 2009, and we see the anniversary bout. That’s right: The Wrestler takes place in the future. The future!

My friends, this movie is maybe kind of awesome? Like Mickey Rourke has a bad heart, and his stripper girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei, is all like please baby don’t go out there and wrestle, and he’s like no baby I have to go out there and wrestle. And he is maybe also a metaphor for George W. Bush? In conclusion, this movie is exactly the movie you knew it would be, but sillier.

* Not strictly “true.”
** If I was still in college and starting Facebook groups for laughs all willy-nilly, I would probably be the founder of a group called “Mickey Rourke Really Loves His Chihuahuas”.*

* Either that or “Dear Sweet Christ I Am So, So Gay for Mickey Rourke in Body Heat.”

One Comment

  • Dude, I fucking LOVE Once Upon a Time in Mexico (are you surprised? no, no you are not), though it didn’t make me cry or make me make up stories about it making me cry. But man. I love that movie. Totally made my ten-best list in ’03. Poor Robert Rodriguez does all this Rourke comeback work, but Aronofsky gets all the credit for taking him across the classy finish line.

    I still haven’t seen this but with Brothers Bloom pushed to ’09 and no Ben Button until Christmas Day, it’s become my “yay winter break!” movie for Friday which I’m assuming will be way, way less fun than last year when that movie was Walk Hard.