Dave White
The Wrestler Review

Dave's Rating:

4.5

...kind of sentimental and corny

Who’s In It: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

The Basics: Mickey Rourke, in what everyone will call a comeback role that also functions as an analog to his own acting career, plays a washed-up, hard-living pro wrestler whose heyday was the '80s (think 9 ½ Weeks) and whose recent career has been ignored by all but the most hardcore fans. He’s got an angry neglected daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), an almost-girlfriend in middle-aged stripper Marisa Tomei and a job selling pesto pasta salad in a grocery store deli. Depressed yet?

What’s The Deal: This is a movie about relearning to look at Mickey Rourke’s monster-face, one he acquired by a life dedicated to partying (and what appears to be liberal amounts of horrifying cosmetic surgery), without thinking, “Holy crap, man, what did you do to yourself?” And then you realize that he’s still the same guy from Diner, just a sadder version, and that his performance here is so good and unshowy (better than the movie itself, in fact, because overall it’s kind of sentimental and corny) that you wind up almost happy to keep watching that mangled mug struggle for redemption.

Who Keeps Earning Her Oscar For My Cousin Vinny: Marisa Tomei. And if you like, you can just insert this movie into her resume as the reason she won it, the rare instance of future-gifting of that award. And I think that scenario is at least as logical as Whoopi Goldberg getting one for Ghost post-deserving-it instead of The Color Purple.

Squeamish-Audience Alert: My second favorite scene--my first favorite involves a really miserable autograph signing event where no one shows--may not be yours, but if you’re into wrestling matches where they use barbed wire-wrapped crutches, artificial limbs and staple guns as weaponry, you’re going to be in bloodsport heaven.

See Also: The documentaries Bigger, Stronger, Faster (about steroid weirdness and how one family of brothers gets involved with it) and The Backyard (about amateur wrestling insanity and senseless, Jackass-adjacent pain management).

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