Movie Reviews

Wrestling USA Magazine

by Bill Welker

REVERSAL: THE MOVIE A Moving Tale for all Athletes, Parents, Coaches, and Sports Fans

I had the unique opportunity to attend the premier showing of the wrestling-oriented film, Reversal. I enthusiastically rate it five “Pins” for its wrenching realism and superb story plot!

Now here’s the kicker: the majority of actors in the movie were not trained Thespians, but real people like you and me, being themselves. And what a powerful performance they played! They made me laugh, they made me cry, but most assuredly, they made me think.

The film is based on the scriptwriter’s (James Petulla) life as a youth and his riveting relationship with his father. The plot is built around one dad’s dream of molding his son into a “state championship” calibre wrestler. But like so many overzealous parents, he pushes too hard.

To please his father, the boy develops some very unsavory dieting habits in his undaunted quest to make the lowest “ideal” weight. These weight-reduction practices lead to eating disorders that are both psychologically and physically devastating to the youth.

I was personally stirred by his “starving-to-star” strategies because they reminded me of a youthful Bill Welker, cutting weight in high school. While viewing the movie, I kept reflecting, “Been there, done that.”

It is also a story of one’s first love, and the new feelings of passion this young wrestler experiences. You will be touched.

In the end, the boy must make some difficult “coming of age” decisions. Has he paid too heavy a price to succeed on the mats? Is college for him? Can he dare to question his dad’s plans for him? All very tough questions for an adolescent who loves his father dearly.

The movie was filmed entirely in Washington, Pennsylvania, a scenic coal mining community. The wrestling clips are very authentic, and will arouse the interest of those who love all sports.

Upon interviewing James Petulla, who also produced and played the father in the drama, I learned that the movie will be distributed throughout the country, targeting audiences that enjoy family movies and athletics.

“Reversal will reach the hearts of all viewers,” continued Petulla. “After watching the pilot showing at Paramount Studios, a well-known, professional model said she was shocked to learn that young wrestlers also resorted to such extreme dieting measures. For her, it was a revelation that really hit home.”

Since many of the players were not actors, I had to ask Petulla how difficult it was training them for their parts.

“Bill, that’s what’s amazing. I just told them to be themselves, and beyond my wildest hopes, they pulled it off magnificently.”

He went on to say, “In fact, I chose Danny Mousetis (a champion wrestler at Washington High) for the lead role over a polished actor because he was so natural when reading the script.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Not only does Danny play the part of Leo, Jr. perfectly, but he is very photogenic on screen. I highly recommend that Mousetis seriously consider acting as a career.

Also entertaining is the colorful “Jerry the Barn” character, played by Jerry Seaman, a real-life wrestling coach and former state champ. His “one-liners” are hilarious!

Reversal (rated PG-13) is a “must-see” movie for everyone who loves athletics and cherishes the intimacy of father-son relationships.

You will be touched.

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