Aging wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson is long past his prime but still ready and rarin' to go on the pro-wrestling circuit. After a particularly brutal beating, however, Randy hangs up his tights, pursues a serious relationship with a long-in-the-tooth stripper, and tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. But he can't resist the lure of the ring and readies himself for a comeback.
“The Wrestler” (2008) Twenty years past his glory days in the mid/late 80s, a wrestler (Mickey Rourke) struggles to make ends meet in New Jersey while wrestling on the weekends, taking illegal pain-meds, pursuing a dancer at the local strip club (Marisa Tomei) and trying to reestablish a relationship with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). This is an engrossing, but gloomy drama about the grim reality of celebrities from practically any field who are long past their prime; it just happens to be a wrestler in this case. People mock how fake wrestling is, but those talented guys bend over backwards to entertain the audience with incredibly painful stunts. The film was shot in the winter in New Jersey and this augments the bleak pall. On the female front, Marisa is absolutely stunning as Cassidy (aka Pam) and Wood is convincing as the embittered daughter. Their relationships with the protagonist are a mixture of sweet, agonizing and moving. The soundtrack features several quality songs from the 80s: "Bang Your Head," "Round and Round," "Balls to the Wall," "Animal Magnetism," "Dangerous," "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)," "Sweet Child o' Mine" and more. The movie reminded me of 80’s metal star Jon Mikl Thor and the excellent documentary “I Am Thor” (2015) and, to a lesser extent, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” (2008). While neither of these is as melancholic as “The Wrestler,” and “I Am Thor” is sometimes laugh-out-loud amusing, they both effectively show the grey reality of former real-life celebs well past their halcyon days. The film runs 1 hour, 49 minutes. GRADE: A-