DVD Review The Wrestler
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: R
Plot: Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a wrestling legend in the 80s, but now after 20 years, Randy is still holding on to the spotlight. He’s stuck wrestling in school gyms and small venues, just scraping by in life. When he’s hit with a heart problem, Randy looks around at his life and sees a stripper (Tomei) and an estranged daughter (Wood) and that’s it.
Who's It For? This is a character study, with Rourke in almost every shot. It isn’t completely necessary but it sure does help if you watched wrestling in your lifetime or at least banged your head to some hair metal bands from the 80s.
Movie: Aronofsky is a truly inventive director and Pi, Reqiuem for a Dream and Fountain are nothing like The Wrestler … perhaps the main reason for that is Rourke. He is completely and utterly The Ram. It’s a part that fits so perfectly it seems only Rourke could do it. Normally that means there is magic. The bleached blond hair, the self-tanning and the hearing aid all create one of the most memorable characters of the year. Plus, there is a surprising amount of subtle humor. Score: 8/10
Within the Ring: First it shows you how fake wrestling can really heart, but then it shifts into a behind the scenes feature of The Wrestler. Interviews with Aronofsky, producer Scott Franklin and Evan Rachel Wood are sprinkled throughout the 42 minutes.
If you're curious about why this film didn't dive into Hulk Hogan or the Macho Man Randy Savage, it was mainly a budget issue that led them there. The best connection is the quick moment we get with Aronofsky and his father, talking about a wrestling match they were at years ago.
The scene every guy will be talking about is the match that includes a staple gun, glass windows, and barb wire. There's plenty of time given to this sequence, so enjoy all of blood.
The Wrestler Music Video – Written and Performed by Bruce Springsteen: You can't ever complain with a helping of Bruce. I heard Rourke personally asked Springsteen for the song, but that's no where on the DVD. Worst of all, it's stretched wide-screen, they got the aspect ratio wrong.
Extras Score: 7/10
Tomei topless … seems to be her thing suddenly. She’s two for two with dropping the top in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead and now this. And her connection with Randy works a little better than Wood’s does. The father-daughter reuniting happens in two noteworthy scenes but they feel a little too quick and easy.
And with the humor and soundtrack, this DVD is one to add to the collection. Heck, even Rourke missing out on Oscar gold somehow makes this character more sympathetic, like he didn't win in the end.
I know it would be too much to ask for Rourke to sit in for a commentary, but a couple more extras would have been nice. Within the Ring is a quality documentary, there just isn't enough meat on this bone.
Final Score: 8/10