By: Chris Penwell
Heel Kick pile drives the expectations of a locally made movie. Shot in Vancouver, it is a comical ride that continues to surprise the audience, but at the same time has a human element nestled in its over-the-top depiction of the backyard wrestling world.
Reggie (Danny Mac) and Maurice (Chris Wilcox) are 30-somethings who dream of entering the ring as professional wrestlers. Reggie, who is living with his mother, after a series of events is pressured by his brother Jared (Matthew Graham) to join a wrestling school so he can finally live out his “childish dream.” The catch is that if he doesn’t pass the rigorous program, he will have to move out and “find a real job.” In addition to that, documentary filmmakers are following what Reggie and Maurice are up to.
Heel Kick is hilarious in a way similar to Step Brothers, but it adds in a dramatic human element that is surprising. At Heel Kick’s premiere screening in Edmonton, the crowd erupted in laughter to the amusing script and slapstick comedy. Seeing a man get hit in the face or slammed to the ground is not usually this funny, and the childish antics and comebacks that Reggie and Maurice offer are perfectly timed. For their midterm examination, Reggie and Maurice decide on their wrestler identities and it’s funny when they perform them in front of their judges. The reactions from the filmmakers, especially Cooper Bibaud as the director, about their antics is also uproarious. In one scene, Roger freaks out at Reggie injecting himself with steroids and the audience were in hysterics.
However, this movie delivered some outstanding performances and there are some solid emotional moments in the plot. Not once did the conversations between the characters feel fake. The dramatic scenes between Reggie and his family are heart wrenching and the support from Roger felt sincere. For a comedy like this with its crude humor and slapstick comedy, it was a pleasant surprise. There are some real performances here; it’s not just a bunch of guys telling jokes and hurting themselves.
The stunt work that both Danny Mac and Chris Wilcox endured is staggering. They went through the process and took every wincing hit. The other wrestlers on screen are the real deal. They come from the ECCW. Scotty Mac, the two protagonists’ trainer in the movie, delivers a solid performance as he teaches them the trade. Even though this is a mockumentary, it actually teaches the audience a lot about the sport. It shows the rigorous process that wrestlers go through, gives information on the culture, and provides some detail to wrestling terminology.
There are a few scenes, on the other hand, that are botched in the audio department. During one pivotal scene (below), the recording doesn’t sound natural and picks up background humming – its distracting. Another issue came from a scene in which the two get drunk. The music in the background was too loud, and the dialogue was muffled. It was difficult to understand what was happening. For one line in this scene, there are subtitles. Adding subtitles for the entire scene would be beneficial.
Despite a few audio hiccups, Heel Kick is a movie you should check out if it’s playing in your area, even if you’re not a wrestling fan. It went well above the expectations of myself and the people I talked to after the screening as it provided hilarious banter between the characters, clever writing, and a few unexpected dramatic twists that were acted with such veracity.
Heel Kick plays in the Garneau Theatre on Tuesday and will then move on to other cities around North America.
Featured Image: (Heel Kick!, Rebel Arcade)