Dir: Brian Thomas Jones
Star: Justin Whalin, Zachery Bryan, Sasha Mitchell, Rick Perkins

It's hard to be sure whether or not to take this film seriously, because it's not clear whether or not the film takes itself seriously. It's set on the "back bar" pro wrestling circuit, but heroes Jeff (Whalin) and Derek (Bryan) believe the fights to be legit, in a way which might have made sense in 1984, rather than two decades later when this film was made. Both work as busboys at Champs, the venue for the bouts, but Jeff dreams of becoming a star of the squared circle himself, and Derek acts as his manager. The other key characters are dickhead wrestler Rick (Davis), who treats his girlfriend (for whom Derek has the hots) appallingly, and who wants to take over the scrapyard owned by Jeff's uncle, and veteran champion "The Slammer" (Mitchell), who turned down his chances at stardom to stay true to the back bar circuit. You can probably figure out where this is going: a winner-take-all bout between Rick and Jeff. Though the journey there goes through wet T-shirts, a dogshit burrito, a house party, homophobia for comedic purposes and former Miss Teen Italy Fabiama Udenio, who made her film debut in Passion Flower Hotel and then played Alotta Fagina in Austin Powers

This is an odd and inconsistent mix, that seems largely aimed at 13-year-old boys - except that the copious volumes of (largely fake) boobage mean they would not be allowed to see it. It's certainly very juvenile in most aspects of the storyline, even if the heroes are apparently no longer in school. Similarly, there are moments which suggest a genuine familiarity with pro wrestling - some of the supporting cast were at one time minor WWE wrestlers - but others where they seem to have little or no clue about how the "sports entertainment" business operates. I'll admit, it is slightly better made than I was expecting, and the performances are functional enough to work: much as in wrestling, the good guys are likeable and the bad ones are hissable, without enormous depth given to either. It's passable entertainment, I suppose, with the occasional bright spots that are kinda amusing; however, it's incredibly predictable, and rarely much less than painfully obvious.

[February 2014]

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