Paul "The Big Show" Wight (a fellow of whom I had never previously heard, since I never watch wrestling), is cer-tainly no Skelton. He possesses neither the knockabout physical abilities nor the crack timing of the comedian. Yet Wight (shown at right, with one of his co-stars, Melora Hardin) is quite able to communicate sweetness and charm (as well as a certain endearing dunce-like quality) beneath his huge exterior, and these go a long way toward making the movie work better than one might imagine. And what exactly is that movie? How about Oliver Twist meets Sister Act in the prize-fight/wrestling arena? Like some of the old Skelton films (The Fuller Brush Man, for instance), it combines several genres: comedy, thriller, heartwarming family fun, a road trip and -- of course -- wrestling.
Wendie Malick, left) and her assistant Ms. Hardin, for whom works our "hero" as the home's handyman. Into this venue appears inveterate gambler and prize-fight promoter (Mark Feuerstein), running from his debt to nasty mob boss (Dennis Farina), and who needs a fighter to fill in for his recently knocked-out contestant. Feuerstein bumps into Wight, and the rest, as they say, is... cliché. Some clichés, however, are more fun than others, and the movie thankfully provides these. Its pro cast seems to understand that it is not involved in making a new Citizen Kane, and so the actors throw themselves into the silliness with appropriate relish.
Seven Girlfriends (catch that on DVD or TV when you can) -- is lovely, as usual, and she's abetted well by Feuerstein (in shades, above), who combines his con-man exterior with enough charm and sex appeal to capably fill the leading-man role. Malick is appropriately surface-mean/kindness beneath, and Wight is generally a delight as the the knucklehead of the title who becomes a fab fighter in no time flat.
Rebecca Creskoff -- advice about which he gets from Ms Hardin, below.
Michael W. Watkins (shown at right: coincidence: TrustMovies covered Watkins' earlier horror film Circle just two days ago), turns this wrestling/road trip/romance/fart-and-poop-fest into surprising comedic fun. The movie, released by Samuel Goldwyn Films, open Friday, more or less nationwide -- for weekend/daytime showings only (Is this a family film, or what!) You can find the locations, including the Quad Cinema in NYC, here.