I think I am going to have to come out on the minority side about this film. When I left the theatre I was not that thrilled about it and even now a couple of days later I have to say I was a little disappointed. Not to lead you to believe that it was a bad film, because it wasn't. It was a very watchable film, in which you will be rooting for the underdog throughout, but I certainly did not enjoy it as much as others nor do I believe that Mickey Rourke deserves an Oscar Award nomination (much less a Golden Globe win) for his portrayal of a wrestler attempting a comeback.
The life of pro wrestler Randy "The Ram" Ramzinski has seen its share of ups and downs. He was the biggest wrestler going during the 1980s and now, 20 years later, in the twilight years of his career he has to stoop to working at a grocery store during the week unloading trucks, living in a trailer park and wrestling on the weekends in local grade school gyms. "The Ram" has now become a caricature of himself. It is sad. He takes drugs to lessen the pain of his wrecked body, is in love with a stripper (Marisa Tomei – ) who does not believe in fraternizing with the customers and even his teenaged daughter hates him. Life is grim. Randy is willing to go to any lengths to feel loved…even if it is only by his fans. No price is too high to pay for this guy and that attitude might end up costing him the only thing he has left to give – his life.
The film is most certainly an energetic and often touching portrayal of a man trying to regain the fame and success he had previously in his life (mirroring Mickey Rourke's own lifestory), but it is fairly paint-by-numbers predictable with too much wrestling (am I going to be accused of being a girl?) and not enough acting for this moviegoer.
Director Aronofsky (I've loved his previous work on films like "Requiem for a Dream") is a tad too heavy handed for me. With his constant focus on the fact that Randy is a vulnerable guy, I got a little bored by it. Okay, I got it with the reading glasses and the hearing aid. We didn't need to go into the hospital gown scene and working at the deli counter (how is that degrading?) as well. The film for the most part was a little too…what's the word?….vulgar, crass, ham handed….something along those lines…for me.
There are moments that are funny and human (the above mentioned deli counter scenes and Randy waking up in a one night stand's bed dressed in full fireman gear were good for laughs) alongside the touching ones. His relationship with his estranged daughter, while almost ruined by Evan Rachel Wood's histrionic acting, is certainly touching. The film does succeed in giving us a very messy, bloody, barfy, and realistically human slice of life.
The film is a success in that it has brought back from the dead the acting career of Mickey Rourke. It also made this viewer think about who is responsible for the oftentimes deplorable lives of our sports heroes, superstar musicians or favourite actors? Them? Us? Is the inevitable downward spiral just part and parcel of the job? These pluses were not enough for me however to think that the film had done it better than it's predecessors like "Rocky" or "The Champ" or "Raging Bull".