Plot: Harry (Dirk Benedict) is a fast talking music promoter who thinks he is a smooth operation, but he finds himself in a rough patch. His attempts to book dates for his lone client, the band Kicks, have fallen on deaf ears and aside from a Dairy Queen gig, he is floundering. When he meets a colorful man named Rick (Roddy Piper), Harry thinks he is in a rock band, but in truth, Rick is a professional wrestler. So when he is signed up, Harry is now in the wrestling business and his fellow managers aren’t too enthused, with a new face in the scene. But Harry also sees a chance to make some serious waves, if he can promote a tour that involves both pro wrestling and rock music, a match made in heaven.
Entertainment Value: This brisk, lightweight comedy is likely to attract mostly pro wrestling fans or those who just have to see every zany movie from the 80s. The cast has a lot of familiar faces from the pro wrestling world, which adds some fun for fans of that world. The narrative is simple and doesn’t try to be more than an excuse for laughs and wrestling matches, so the focus is on over the top humor and the colorful characters involved. I found the pace to be good, which is crucial here, as this kind of material can’t sustain much exposition or drawn out sequences. The movie’s sense of humor works for what it is, just silliness and zany moments, but if you don’t appreciate lame jokes and ham handed performances, it likely won’t click. The other big draw is all the 80s threads present here, from the clothes to the cast to the lingo, Body Slam is drenched in 80s vibes and it is a fun time capsule, to be sure. So if you like the 80s, pro wrestling, or silly comedies, Body Slam is recommended.
A number of pro wrestlers have made the jump into feature films, but few have been able to make a smooth transition. Roddy Piper was never able to break into big screen stardom, but he proved to be a capable actor and turned in a remarkable effort in John Carpenter’s They Live. So while he could act with great skill, in Body Slam he plays a role closer to his wrestling persona and given the comedic tone, his performance isn’t on par with his best. But this is to be expected and Piper embraces the lunacy of the movie, so he is fun to watch in action here. The movie also features other wrestlers such as Ric Flair, Captain Lou Albano, Freddie Blassie, and Bruno Sammartino. Dirk Benedict is a lot of fun as a sleazy business manager, while John Astin, Billy Barty, and the gorgeous Tanya Roberts round out the cast.