Beyond the Mat
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Time Out saysBarry Blaustein was once a Saturday Night Live producer and scriptwriter for Eddie Murphy. For this homespun documentary about the off-mat lives of US wrestlers he took his long-standing fascination with the lucrative spectacle on the road, looking to answer the question: What sort of human being bashes another man's skull into a ringpost for a living? His first port of call was the office of Vince McMahon, scion of the World Wrestling Federation's controlling family, who has overseen the transformation of the federation (current worth $1 billion) into the movie studio it is today, with writers, composers and wardrobe designers all engaged in the production of its violent pantomimes. We tour the All-Pro Wrestling School in California and Philadelphia's fearsome Extreme Championships, but it's the studies Blaustein makes of several wrestlers that root the film. He hangs out with 53-year-old Terry Funk, still stuck on the sport despite severe arthritis; with lost legend Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, slumming on the inter-state circuit and musing on his fuck-ups with sex, drugs and family; and, most compellingly, with Mick Foley (aka 'Mankind'), a genuinely sweet family man who likes bringing his wife and young kids to watch his work.