Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Original Title: Kayfabe
Year: 2007
Director: Michael Raven, Michael Scully
Writer: Michael Raven, Michael Scully
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104079/
Genre: Mockumentary, Wrestling

The TCICWF is shutting down forever, and these colorful, eccentric, clueless, indie wrestlers have one last chance to show the world that they belong in the big leagues.

After the shit storm that was Grunt!, I was certainly hesitant to dive right into another wrestling mockumentary. But 2007's Kayfabe was a breath of fresh wrestling trunks in comparison. This is done right.

A Canadian production, Kayfabe follows a small local wrestling organization, humorously named Tri-Cities International Championship Wrestling Federation or TCICWF, in its last days. This is a much lighter portrayal of the lower rung wrestlers than something like The Wrestler. Each character seems to be a near-caricature of the different personalities of professional wrestlers. You have the talented leader, Rocket Randy Tyler (Pete Smith), most concerned with the business instead of personal glory. You have the not so talented co-leader Steve Justice (Michael Roselli), very full of himself and concerned with his image alone. There's the masked Mexican wrestler, the confused guy that can't get over with the crowd, the strange and cocky color commentator, the grisly owner, the ambiguously gay wrestler, the rookie, the Christian... it's a very funny collection of characters and all of them work well.

This film at first for me felt like something that only long-time wrestling fans would appreciate. But the more I think about it, it may just be more universal than that. Kayfabe is a term used in the wrestling business that describes the act of presenting something as real that is not real. It's the perfect name for this as we at the same time see the sad live shows and all the backstage interactions before and after these shows. It gives a real-life and humorous look at what life may be like for one of these tiny organizations.

The film opens with a conversation between Randy Tyler and TCICWF owner Al Thompson (Travis Watters) regarding the night's show. As they talk, terms they are using are defined on screen. While it's a little obvious, I still think it was a good decision especially those who may not know what a 'gimmick' or a 'mark' are.

Eventually it is revealed that the business is going under. This is obviously a plot point, but not the point of the film. Regardless of the state of the business, watching the guys perform for lackluster audiences, working out their gimmicks and matches beforehand, talking about the business of professional wrestling in general... this was the true meat and potatoes of Kayfabe. I don't want to get too much into the characters themselves and how they interact with one another because that is where the true humor and interested developments happen in the film. It's presented as a mix of Arrested Development and the Office, a reflection of real life with awkward humor injected throughout.

The acting was all entertaining. It's obvious these guys aren't masters of their craft by any means, but I really think it works. It makes a lot of it feel more realistic as they feel a little less than natural with a camera present. I'm not sure how many of the actors in the films are actual pro-wrestlers, but all of them at least seemed to know what they are doing. Rocket Randy Tyler vs. Steve Justice wasn't going to burn down the house, but the two of them wrestling was solid enough. For two non-wrestlers, if that's what they are, it was done quite well. And even though the wrestling was not technically as good as it was in Grunt!, it was most certainly filmed better.

This is another short review, but it's no reflection of my admiration of Kayfabe, it is just simply hard for me to fully discuss without just repeating funny moments. It's not perfect... some of the jokes fall a little flat or wear their welcome, but really this is only a minor, minor gripe.

This is a movie worth checking out and they deserve the attention. You can, and should, check out the website for the movie, http://www.kayfabemovie.com/.

For wrestling fans especially, I'd definitely recommend Kayfabe. A great way to wrap up my reviews of wrestling docu/mocku flicks!

Score: 7.75 / 10

These pythons are sick!

No comments: