Saw Mickey Rourke's "comeback" film The Wrestler over the weekend; bottom line is it pretty much lives up to all the hype. Robert D. Siegel's script is beautifully observed, Darren Aronofksy's direction keeps the whole thing, rather deftly, just this side of sentimentality, the inexplicably underrated Marisa Tomei turns in another Oscar-caliber performance (why she wasn't nominated for last year's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead remains one of the mysteries of the age) and Rourke himself is heartbreaking and funny -- a beautiful wreck of the world who makes you care about him against all the odds. The icing on the cake is Bruce Springsteen's title song, which plays after the soon-to-be-iconic ambiguous freeze-frame that ends the film, and is one of the best thing's the Boss has done in ages. Springsteen may have gotten his own Oscar for his song in Philadelphia, but that one felt like a pro simply doing his job; this one gets down to the existential nub of the film in a way that's incredibly affecting. Here it is, and if it doesn't get you a little teary you probably should have it looked at.
The film's success, however, has had an interesting and alarming consequence, however. In fact, I can now reveal, in a BOXOFFICE exclusive, that Fox Searchlight, is teaming with Universal for a sequel that will add Rourke's titular character to one of the most successful franchises in recent years. The new film, tentatively titled The Wrestler II: Randy the Ram Versus the Aztec Mummy, will feature hordes of undead Mexicans in a CGI battle royale at a shopping mall in Paramus, New Jersey; Michael Bay, fresh from the triumph that was Transformers, takes over the directoral reins, and the script is by former Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould, based on his experience writing wrestling scenarios for the WCW in the 90s. Here's a clip of some early footage.
Coming tomorrow: I have all the details on Sylvester Stallone's forthcoming followup to his wildly successful Rocky Balboa -- Rambo VS Rimbaud, in which the brooding Vietnam vet takes on the zombie French symbolist bard in a FX laden poetry slam at the Nuyorican Cafe.