“The Wrestler” arrived courtesy of Netflix yesterday and I launched it into my portable JWIN DVD player quietly hooked to a 26 inch tube TV. The viewing details will eventually make sense.
I first heard of the movie as it was received by the Oscar committee with critical acclaim with Mickey Rourke receiving a best actor nomination and Marisa Tomei receiving a best supporting actress nomination. I have been a fan or Rouke’s since the “Pope of Greenwich Village” days and Tomei has always impressed me with the variety of roles she has been able to take on.
The story is a wonderful account of a premier wrestler who is now past his prime. The touching part is how much Randy “The Ram” Robinson is truly an entertainer and loves the crowds and his fans. Unfortunately he is now living hand to mouth working in a grocery store during the week so that his weekends are free to wrestle. The creaking, popping and taping up ritual should resonate with all weekend warriors in their 40’s and 50’s. On the weekend he is no longer at Madison Square Garden and is instead headlining at small gymnasiums with around 200 spectators rather than 20,000 spectators.
His share of the gate is quickly distributed to hair dye, tanning salon, the locker room pharmacist, an exotic dancer and the rent. He is truly focused on his craft and avoids purchasing pain medication and recreational drugs, only wanting to “get big.” The turning point is his failing health which makes him properly court Cassidy, seek out his estranged daughter, and retire from wrestling to end up behind the deli counter at the market. Even while distributing cold cuts he seeks to entertain.
He is even an entertainer in his trailer park, playing with the kids and inviting one over to his house to play a Nintendo game of himself from 20 years ago on a small television. The kid eventually has had enough wanting to play “Call of Duty 4” instead of this game that is so old. It made me look at my own current set up for watching movies.
In our glimpse of his life we are vividly shown the pain of not aging gracefully and the important of personal connections. It is a must rent for middle aged men like myself. It can either be a wake-up call or a reminder to be thankful for the people in your life.