Beyond the Mat (2000)

BEYOND THE MAT is a blast-- a low-budget, shot-on-video, warts-and-
all pro-wrestling documentary about a fan's three-year, cross-coun-
try, behind-the-scenes peek.  Screenwriter-turned-filmmaker Barry 
W. Blaustein (who?) visited the WWF headquarters, interviewed owner 
(and occasional performer!) Vince McMahon, and tracked down those 
both in their prime and past it.  He attended matches and practice 
sessions (yeah, it's choreographed), and even visited a pro-school 
run by, of all people, an accountant.  A *huge* accountant.  Half 
the movie is utterly uproarious, with more priceless bits than this 
critic could count.  (My fave:  a WWF wannabe puking on demand for 
an interview and then promptly phoning his mom.  Now how can you 
top that?)  The other side of the coin is an affecting (and occa-
sionally distressing) look at the lifestyles of the battered and 
bruised.  We visit their homes, meet their families, and, in one 
notably uncomfortable sequence, watch a teary reconciliation be-
tween a father and his angry grown daughter.  Yes, there's plenty 
of ring action.  Yes, Jesse "The Body" makes an appearance.  Yes, 
there's blood everywhere, proving that not *everything* is faked.  
And yet it's still a bit of a sit.  Part of the problem is Blau-
stein's wishy-washy narration.  Another is his unsubtle storytel-
ling.  I mean, how can you *not* be distracted by the all-to-ob-
vious use of "Stand By Me" as a music cue?  At least the non-nar-
rated footage is worth its weight.  And, really, where *else* are 
you gonna overhear audience members discussing their favorite Jerry 
Springer Show episodes beforehand?  Such as the one with the "mid-
get clan?"  (Rated "R"/~100 min.)

Grades: B-

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Pretty Woman and Pro Wrestling

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros - Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros