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Quirky is as quirky does and indie films are almost the very definition of the word with the genre filled with almost countless characters and couples who are a little off the beaten path. And so it with Chokeslam, a new comedy that is positively bursting with the word, even as it occasionally stumbles to put it all together.
We meet Corey Swanson (Chris Marquette), a 28-year-old deli clerk who still lives with his overbearing mother. He’s not done much with his life in the ten years since graduation, but he heads to the class reunion in hopes of meeting old love interest Sheena (Amanda Crew), whose stage name is “Smasheena” or rather ring name as since school, she’s put all her anger and frustration into pro wrestling. She’s developed a nasty reputation as a fighter with a bad temper and it’s made her a minor star. She’s in a bit of spiral though and so Corey sees an opportunity to win her back, staging a retirement match for her right back in their hometown. Problem is, Sheena is dating her pushy, public relations-hogging manager (Niall Matter) and an incident back in school lingers over Corey that has haunted him since.
Written and directed by Robert Cuffley, Chokeslam is a fairly breezy film that is at least somewhat original, a love story wrapped around female wrestling, and while there’s not much wrestling in the movie it does have some good moments in the ring that are convincing if not believable. What we do see in fighting is all very well choreographed and does look as authentic as, well, pro wrestling looks and Crew is impressive both in stature and strength. She carries the film. Cuffley doesn’t take any big risks but has a sure hand, keeping great momentum throughout, putting most of the effort on the characters, as he should, and it pays off, as we really get to know and like most of these people.
This isn’t a big story and it’s limited by its budget, but there’s plenty of heart in the performances with some good work by Marquette and his best friend Luke (Michael Eklund) a former high school star who comes on hard times himself. They both have great timing and are a solid duo of opposites on the same side of letdown in the years since their glory days. And look for none other than WWE superstar Mick Foley in an extended cameo who plays a less successful version of himself.
It’s practically clicheé to call an Indie film charming, but that’s just about the best way to size up Chokeslam. Plenty of well-earned laughs and some light-hearted drama keep this a comedy to jump off the ropes for.
Movie description: Chokeslam is a 2017 comedy about a mild-mannered deli clerk who finally gets a second chance to pursue his high school sweetheart, a notorious female professional wrestler, when she returns for their ten-year reunion.
Director(s): Robert Cuffley
Actor(s): Chris Marquette, Amanda Crew, Michael Eklund