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Beyond the Mat

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Beyond the Mat

Starring: Vince McMahon, Terry Funk
Director: Barry Blaustein
Rated: R
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: March 2000
Genre: Documentary

*Also starring: Jake Roberts, Mick Foley

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Writer/director Barry Blaustein received a Director's Guild of America documentary nomination for his enthusiastic, behind-the-scenes examination of professional wrestling. In publicizing his carefully collated collection of matches and interviews, he's stated, "I wanted the sport of wrestling to get some respect in spite of itself. I wanted to also make a film for people who don't even care about wrestling that would keep them emotionally involved in these guys' lives." Perhaps the most famous ex-pro wrestler is Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who's now serving as the duly elected Governor of Minnesota, but these guys include the articulate Mick "Mankind" Foley, who has a book on the best-seller list, along with 53 year-old Terry Funk, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and several other lesser luminaries, including the athlete who can vomit on cue, earning the nickname "Puke." Make no mistake about it: wrestling is hard work. Yeah, it's rigged but that doesn't mean it's easy. Each round is planned, scripted, choreographed and rehearsed. Cynical promoters pull the strings. But, for participants, the physical exertion demands stamina and courage, not to mention frequent trips to the hospital. And the wrestlers come across as sympathetic, all-too-human men with their own troubles and tragedies. Vince McMahon, who appears in the footage, and his World Wrestling Federation has issued a cease-and-desist letter with regard to the advertisements - which Lions Gate Films has rejected as bullying tactics to suppress marketing of this film. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Beyond the Mat is a slammin' 6. While it's certainly not the "no-holds-barred expose" that's implied in the ads, it may be more than you ever wanted to know about the subject of professional wrestling.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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