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WIN WIN so so on wrestling

Michele Weldon | April 12, 2011

Of course I go see "Win Win," the only wrestling movie since "The Wrestler," except this one is really about high school wrerstling. "The Wrestler" wasn't. I go with, of course who else but another wrestling mom. It's off season and we haven't watched wrestling live in weeks. We kind of miss it.

Bottom line is this is a great movie, but for a wrestling mom or dad, well, there just isn't enough wrestling in it. We wanted a wrestling movie. Bring it on.

The good news is the star of the movie, or at least the wrestling moms thought he was the star of the movie, is a real wrestler. And it shows. Alex Shaffer, a former New Jersey state champ at 17 in real life, is Kyle, the kid from the complicated family who ends up changing the team and the life outlook of the coach who ends up being his new fake dad.

It's all fine and dandy and true-feeling from the bad coaches and kids who are horrible in practice to the skinny kid, Stemler, who is terrified of wrestling, to the entire team on the bus en route to their own pinning crucifixions. We also loved the brief scene with all the wrestlers piling up the stairs and out of the Flaherty basement in a blur of muscular adolescence. And Kyle's tatoos. A lot of wrestlers have tattoos.

I won't bore you with a dissection of character and plot, but Paul Giammati is good, Amy Ryan as his wife is also great, (she's Holly on "The Office,") and she delivers one of the best lines of the movie. When asked what she would do to Kyle's drug-addicted mom who abandoned him, she says, "Go to Ohio and beat the crap out of her." Every mom in the audience cheered.

We didn't take a poll so I am not sure how many wrestling parents were in the audience, but if there were any, we would all notice the dilapidated high school gyms were real, the matches were real, the pins were real.

But Kyle's bleached blond hair wasn't. All wreslting parents know some teams have their wrestlers all bleach their hair for regionals, sectionals or state-- our team at Oak Park River Forest High School often has the boys all shave their heads. It's an intimidation thing. So is the bleach.

The problem is Kyle's hair never grew out; he had no roots. Maybe that was because in real life he had no family roots; OK, I am reaching here. The continuity editor missed that one, even though there is a clear passage of time from in-season to off-season. Just give me a scene of Kyle bleaching his hair in the sink.

The weights were off too. The only one who looked 119 was Stemler, tall and skinny. Kyle didn't look 125. He looked 135 or 140 to me. Wrestling moms can usually tell by looking at a kid in a singlet what he weighs. Oh, and to that point, Kyle ate in season. Ha. Pizza even. And not just after he made weight and won his match, but during the week.

We laughed, we cheered, we even teared. But we wanted more wrestling. Good news is there is real off-season wrestling to watch featuring our own sons quite soon.

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