Plot: Randy Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a superstar in the 80s, one of the top pro wrestlers with millions of fans and a lifestyle most could only dream of. But decades later, his fame has faded, his fortune is gone, and while he still wrestles, it is for dozens, not millions of fans. But he is driven to keep performing, as this is the only life he knows and with his own personal life in shambles, the one place he feels loved and accepted, as the fans still cheer him on. After a wild match however, Randy collapses in the dressing room and wakes up in a hospital, where he learns he had a heart attack and required a bypass. His future in the ring seems doubtful, so he uses the downtime to reconnect with his estranged daughter and pursue the stripper that has always had his attention. But his attempts with his daughter seem fruitless, as he has burned her once too many times, but while his stripper love interest is dealing with her own inner demons, ones quite similar to Randy’s. As he tries to adjust to life outside the wrestling ring, can Randy find his place in the world?
Entertainment Value: Even if you don’t like pro wrestling, The Wrestler has a lot to offer and is a bleak, but riveting look inside the life of a driven man. The movie would be best known for Mickey Rourke’s dynamic, tour de force turn as Randy, but the rest of this film is excellent as well, especially the atmosphere and authentic texture. The world of indie wrestling is brought to life here in realistic, warts and all fashion, from the locker rooms to the day jobs to the blend of fresh and experienced talent. The matches look great and carry a lot of impact, though they’re not shot in the usual tv style, so they’re much more cinematic here. But even if you’re not a fan of the sport, The Wrestler has universal themes that go beyond the squared circle. The tale of a broken down, once famous person trying to stay relevant and work toward a comeback is an example of that universality, a role for which Rourke is an ideal choice. He is fantastic here as well, easily one of the best performances of his career. I loved the thread with Rourke and Marisa Tomei, as you have two people in such a similar situation, from different worlds, but with so much common ground. The estranged daughter subplot is rushed and doesn’t add much, but otherwise, I think the pace here is spot on. I think The Wrestler is a fantastic movie that creates an authentic, effective world and showcases Rourke at his absolute best.
A little man ass, as well as a number of topless women can be seen. The bare breasts are mostly part of scenes in a strip club and are shown in the background, but sometimes we get the rack as the center of attention. A humorous sex scenes unfolds in a bathroom, but nothing scandalous is shown. A little bloodshed here and there, mostly in a scene that depicts a hardcore style match between two wrestlers. This involves some cuts, abrasions, a staple gun, and some razor blade self abuse. This all fits within the match, so it is violent, but it isn’t graphic, though some of the aftermath wounds can be a little gross to see. The tone of the movie is serious and the writing is great, but there’s not a wealth of over the top lines or exchanges. Some fun comic relief pops in at times, but otherwise, not much to talk about here. On the craziness side of things, we have Randy’s customer service skills and the enthusiastic bathroom sink sex, but this one stays mostly grounded.
Overall Insanity: 2/10