Somewhere on your Google machines, you can find a Top 10 list of the best arm-wrestling movies of all time. Perched at No. 4 is Over the Top, Sylvester Stallones 1987 flop opus about the sport. And the other nine spots are completely blank.
Id like to think that even if the chart werent a joke, the brand-new Walrus would sit pretty at No. 1, but its about more than mere intertwined fists. Much more. See for yourself when the feature film makes its worldwide debut Saturday at City Arts Center, with free beer and a live musical performance by Samantha Crain.
The latest opus from local director Mickey Reece (Punch Cowboy, The Seducers Club), Walrus tells the sad story of underground arm-wrasslin champ Wallace Mulroney (Kameron Primm), he of the wet-mop hair and little words.
Managed by one-armed Tommy Pistino (Oklahoma Gazette contributing writer Danny Marroquin), Wallace feels like hes lost it, despite a winning streak. With the arrival of his Russian mail-order bride, Olga (Rebecca Cox, pictured), comes a life-upending twist Im not about to spoil. Sexually abused by her father, Olga sees Wallace as her salvation, even if she misspeaks his name as Walrus. Observes an amused Tommy, She cant pronounce your name right! Shes foreign! Aint that somethin? The film truly is. Reece has fierce comic timing, and hes able to draw strong performances out of actors who arent necessarily actors, especially for a production with an estimated budget of $500. Its a testament to Reeces ridiculous amount of talent that one can tell of the limitations only when the Russians home looks like a house in Moore, with a photo of former Gov. George Nigh smiling down from the living room wall.
Reece and his ever-capable cast take us down one weird path youll be more than happy to follow. The director has peppered the trail with music cues as apropos as Martin Scorsese, ranging from Del Shannons Runaway to Petula Clarks Downtown.
The latter arrives in a semi-fantasy scene sure to crush the hearts of many viewers, as Olga conveys her joy of having escaped from under her fathers thumb (so to speak) by lip-synching the optimistic pop hit. Cox pulls it off with admirable aplomb.
Its kind of like that polarizing scene in Magnolia when the various characters take turns singing Aimee Manns Wise Up: Youll either get it or hate it with the passion of a thousand suns.
I get it. I totally get it.