Movie Reviews

Tulsa World


by Glenn Hibdon

“Reversal” a Big Hit in Tulsa

Wrestling has once again gone Hollywood. And this time the movie “Reversal” has plenty of Oklahoma ties — from the son of University of Oklahoma wrestling coach Jack Spates playing a part to director Alan Vint growing up in Tulsa. This film ultimately has a very positive message, is very real and has a powerful father-son story line.

“I have seen the movie five times,” says Jack Spates who attended screenings at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood and Pittsburgh, PA. “The production is definitely the best and most accurate representation of the sport to date. Far better than Hollywood blockbuster ‘Vision Quest’ or the movie ‘Take Down.’”

The film is the true story of James Petulla, who produced and wrote it, as well as playing the lead role of “Coach Leone.”

James’s performance as Coach Leone is outstanding! He really captured a father truly wanting the best for his son. Coach Leone is not the typical stage parent or egomaniac living his life though his son. He really wants his son to have a much better life than he had.

Leone works the coal mines in Pennsylvania by day and is a wrestling coach at night. His drive for his son to be the best in the sport is proven later as we find out he does not even get paid, even though he is the high school head wrestling coach.

The young actors Petulla had in the film were remarkable as well. Danny Mousetis, a real high school wrestler who plays Leo Leone in the movie was very honest and truthful. He reminded me of Marlon Brando in his early films; very quiet, honest and deep. Kelly Vint, who plays opposite Danny as his girlfriend, puts on a wonderful performance as well.

The film really hits the mark about a young man’s struggle with his own vision and the expectations of his father.

Another interesting conflict in the film is when an Ohio state champion moves to the school and happens to be the same weight class as Coach Leone’s son Leo. The newly arrived champion is played by Justin Spates, who could certainly have an acting career if he desired. All in all, the performances by this entire young cast were truly amazing.

It is Vint’s first directing debut after acting roles in “Panic In Needle Park” opposite Al Pacino, and “Macon County Line.” “I wanted to let people know that I am coming home with a film that I made for the American people,” Vint said. “So far the American people love it. The Hollywood distributors liked it, but they said they didn’t know what to do with it because it had no ‘name’ actors and no sex or violence.”

Kurt Angle, WWF star and Olympic Gold medallist, has also seen Reversal and is now one its biggest fans and supporters. He and his wife both cried. (Even tough coach Spates shed a few tears!) “Anyone who has worked hard and sacrificed for a sport should certainly see and will enjoy this film,” enthuses Angle.

Some people will have mixed feelings about the way the father raised his son. My perspective is that he made some mistakes, but he was a good father who loved his son. He just wanted his son to have more in life than he had. He wanted his son to go to college,s and ultimately in the end he supports his son’s dream. It’s sad and beautiful.

Reversal truly is a powerful film. From the very first minute of the movie I was “in.” The cinematography and score were excellent and the audience response afterwards was overwhelming. People really do like this movie.