Wrestling With Good Taste In 'Ready To Rumble.'
By James DiGiovanna
APRIL 17, 2000: I've always thought that pro wrestling is to white culture what ballet is to White Culture. Both involve carefully choreographed moves that skirt the edge of real danger. Both are highly sexualized. Both involve cool makeup and costumes. But only one gives you face-smashing action set to a rap-metal beat!
Thus, it was with thoughts of the finer things that I went to see the new wrestling comedy Ready To Rumble. I also thought it would be fitting to bring my friend Dr. Samuel Slote, a noted literary critic and author of The Silence in Progress of Dante, Mallarmé and Joyce.
Professor Slote and I took our seats and waited for the hilarity to commence. And commence it did, with the first few scenes of the movie involving a whole series of poop jokes! It seems that the two protagonists of the film, Gordie Boggs (played by David Arquette, who is never, ever completely annoying) and Sean Biggs (Scott Caan, who is in no way an embarrassment to his accomplished father) work as septic tank cleaners. Why? Because Feces is Funny!
Dr. Slote, however, disagreed; in fact, not only did he not laugh at the scene where the two slow-witted sanitizers eat sandwiches in front of a dripping poop spout, he made some comment about how Trainspotting was "to blame" for the rash of cinematic fecal humor over the last few years. To blame? What about to praise?!
Anyway, Gordie and Sean are big fans of pro wrestling, and are excited to have tickets to a match featuring their favorite wrestler, world champion Jimmy King (Oliver Platt, who is by no means slumming here when there are lots of good roles begging for his considerable talent). But King has crossed evil wrestling promoter Titus Sinclair (Joe Pantoliano), and now Titus will have his revenge by ordering evil wrestler Diamond Dallas Page (who cares) to depart from the script and give Jimmy a serious beat down.
Watching their idol wind up on the wrong end of a "four post massacre" sends young Gordie and Sean into paroxysms of true, manly tears. Their sorrowful fit causes them to drive their poop-mobile off the road, wrecking it and spilling tons of hilarious human excrement all over the highway.
Thus, jobless, they decide to find Jimmy King and help him win back his championship title.
Does the crazy comedy then continue? Well, unless, like Dr. Slote, you think farting nuns, foul-mouthed old women and vomiting aren't funny, then, yes, the comedy continues.
As I furiously scribbled notes about the film we were watching, Professor Slote actually had the gall to turn to me and ask, "What about this could you possibly want to remember?" Um, how about the brilliant homage to America's finest athletic/artistic activity, Herr Professor Doktor Slote?
Yes, wrestling. The wrestling sequences of Ready To Rumble capture exactly what's best about wrestling: violence, brutality, and a short break for a parade of breasts. First, two testosterone cases come out and artfully beat the snot out of each other while some hybrid metal/rap plays, then a line of scantily clad dancing girls jump into the ring to show that it is possible, for the well-practiced craftswoman, to simultaneously stick out one's ass and tits while some hybrid metal/rap plays.
Of course, my New York liberal friend Dr. Slote thought that this was "demeaning to women." Yeah, see you at the Greenpeace rally, Slote!
Dr. Slote seemed particularly dismayed to note that there were a goodly number of children in the audience, and that these children laughed uproariously at much of the film. Hey, at least they're not rotting their brains with that Disney crap! I mean, what would you rather have your children see, some singing Native American mermaid lion queen, or the kind of finely wrought homoerotic action that only big-time wrestling can provide?
Plus, Ready To Rumble features the pulchritudinous talents of Rose McGowan as one of the "Nitro Girls," the professional dancing women who entertain the crowds between bouts at the wrestling events. For those unfamiliar with Ms. McGowan's talents, let me just say that if she is here on earth, then hell must be missing an angel. As if to disprove Dr. Slote's high-culture critique of the film, McGowan's character has Art on the walls of her apartment, including a series of pictures of herself in the style of those big-eyed children that Walter Keane used to paint. I mean, if there's Art in a film, then it is by definition an art film, right?
Further, Martin Landau is in this movie, and he's way too good an actor to just take on some crap project for money. And both Scott Caan and David Arquette have great teeth, and come from respected acting families. Anyway, that's what I tried to explain to Professor Slote as he dissed this film. Finally I asked if there was anything he liked about it, and he said, "Well, there was one interesting piece of dramaturgy..."
Of course, with that he gave himself away, and so I put him in a head lock and spun him to the ground. It might be un-American to diss pro wrestling, David Arquette, and movies about stupid people and feces, but only a communist would ever say "interesting piece of dramaturgy."
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