by Christopher Null
© 2003 filmcritic.com
This movie was sold to me as “a Rocky movie but about wrestling.” I just about puked but decided to give it a chance anyway. Imagine my surprise: It’s not a bad movie. It’s inspirational without being saccharine and well-made, especially so for an independent.
The film is about a young, middle-of-nowhere kid who is pushed to succeed in wrestling by a father who obviously lives vicariously through his son. But son has doubts — he has trouble making weight (involving sweat-inducing clothes and puking up all his meals), the new kid at school is giving him shit, and his arty new girlfriend (she smokes, so we know she’s artistic) has dreams beyond the world of athletics. In the end, will Leo stay with the sport or tell his dad to stick it?
The only real problem with the film is Danny Mousetis, whose mush-mouthed performance as Leo is probably representative of real teens but isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Too bad, though, that the film ends with a kind of two-faced ending, one of which includes the de rigueur big wrestling match — I just wanted Leo to kick his dad in the nuts and skip town.