Not rated, but if you want to watch one of the cringiest injuries I've ever seen, come on down. I mean, I didn't think I was squeamish, but geeeeeeezzzz. There's probably some language. There's definitely some sexual harassment. Now I'm getting into nitty gritty, but the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling wrestled in spandex. Take from that what you will. Not rated.
DIRECTOR: Brett Whitcomb
We watched the Netflix show! I had to know the real story. Okay, I never liked wrestling. I know that I was the target market for wrestling at the height of wrestling fever. But no, I never got into wrestling. Why am I apologizing? Always like what you like. Unless it's bad for your soul. In that case, cut it out! Regardless, I was curious where all this stuff came from. I can't believe how much the Netflix show used. While not necessarily a biopic version of these ladies' lives, it really used the broad template for all of this. It was really a rad experience.
GLOW is not necessarily the best documentary in the world, but it is way better than it has any right to be. From a technical perspective, it looks pretty chincy. It has real production value stuff. It almost at times feels like a special feature off of a DVD. I think I want to shake the filmmakers and ask them to just go safer with their choices. I'm going down a criticism spiral right now and I'm not necessarily going to stop it because I have some things to say about this. The filmmakers are obviously fans. This is one of those For the Love of Spock situations. This is a movie made by fans for the fans. There's no way that the movie really tries to be objective about anything. For them, it is not exactly the time to be hard-hitting and finding the root of what makes these people tick. But in the context of all of these criticisms, the movie is actually completely riveting. You would think it would be hard to watch a fan video for something that you aren't really a fan of. But GLOW is just informative enough to keep people informed. I think a lot of that comes from its subject matter. From what I understand about wrestling, there's this world that thrives when it comes to people who completely believe what they are seeing. Because they want to believe, there is no need to know the reality of what is going on. If Mt. Fuji hits Little Egypt, then there's probably a beef behind it. I don't think any of the people who believe this are dumb. Their logical brain knows what is going on in reality, but that kind of takes away the magic of the entire situation. I get that. I get that in spades. It's that faith of a child that I desperately want. But because of that belief and the fact that a lot of time has passed since the original GLOW program was on the air, the movie does a really good job explaining what really was going on. For me, an outsider, it's perfect. It gave me an understanding of the cultural context for all of these situations. I got to see what people really liked about GLOW without really removing all of the blemishes of the story.
But the movie is both uplifting and tragic. I don't think I was really ready for that. Like the Netflix program, the story was built out of exploitation. These were women who wanted to be on television. They were actresses who were having a hard time finding work. In the process, they were yelled at and emotionally tortured. I'm never going to advocate for any kind of emotional torture. The director, whose name is escaping me right now, doesn't appear in the film outside of a few shots at a reunion. He doesn't participate in any interviews and he makes himself scarce. But for all the garbage he put these women through, they all love him. Maybe not all love him, but there are a few who absolutely adore him. Because GLOW wasn't supposed to be amazing, it kind of became the story of the underdog. GLOW was The Little Engine That Could. It gained an intense fanbase when no one was really supposed to be watching it. Honestly, there's something really interesting to see just the right amount of fandom affect some people. The wrestlers became famous in their own right. They had really intense fans. But they weren't exactly famous everywhere. I'm actually surprised by how much attention they did end up receiving. But that's another story. But they were both exalted and humbled. Through the process of emotional abuse, a rise in celebrity (but in a tempered way), they ended up all becoming like sisters. These were shoestring budgets, bad jokes, ridiculous outfits, and little-to-no training. But because of the absurd lifestyle that they were all living, they bonded really hard. They had the time of their lives. Mind you, only a handful of women actually participated in the interview process, but they all speak lovingly about their time at GLOW.
This leads to the story of Mountain Fuji. I really want to call her Machu Picchu. It's pretty obvious which characters really stand in for each other. Mountain Fuji, whose name I don't think is ever said (because they all go by their wrestling monikers throughout the text) only really found acceptance through the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Mountain Fuji, as pictured above, was significantly larger than her wrestling co-stars. Considering that there were women on the show who could easily segue into modeling careers, Mountain Fuji was the one who found actual celebrity on the show. She was the hero of the show. You would think that the American themed one would be the hero of the show. But people piled into see Mountain Fuji take down the competition. This humble woman who was able to throw people around like trash gained an actual fanbase. And the best thing about it all was that she was the nicest person in the world. She was friends with everyone. People cry when they think about their time with Mountain Fuji. I told you that this story was heartwarming, but also a bummer, right? Mountain Fuji is bound to a wheelchair today. She's in an assisted living center today and the most accomplished thing she has ever done was to be on GLOW. The film has a large section of the documentary devoted to Mountain Fuji. She's not in the first half. I think the movie saves her for a big reveal because it is so striking how different her life is now. But honest-to-Pete, she might actually still be the nicest lady living. She is confined to this chair, but she is this humble, humble, humble woman. She prays for those people from her past. She's embarrassed to see them because she can't walk anymore. She confesses that she had the biggest crush on the director of the show...and then proceeds to tell him to his face at the reunion. It's some emotional stuff, guys. I don't know if I was quite ready to handle that in a documentary about women's wrestling, especially considering that I don't like any kind of wrestling.
I want to recommend this to everyone, but I also know that I'm a weird person who watches too many movies and am willing to give chances to things that don't necessarily apply to everyone. The movie is very cheap looking at times. Mirroring the content it is discussing, the documentary almost feels unfinished at times. Considering that only a fraction of the cast is involved in the documentary, I have to wonder what went into making this movie. Did one contact call another contact? Was there really a push to make this thing perfect? Like I said, the movie is better than it has any right to be, but that doesn't mean it necessarily is for everyone. I appreciated that the movie had heart. There was a documentary two years ago, Icarus. I'm not saying that GLOW is on the quality of Icarus. Icarus is an incredible documentary that was made very well. But they do kind of share something in common. I don't think that the people who made the GLOW documentary knew what they had on their hands when they made it. They knew that they had a fan video. They knew that they were going to get interviews from people that would really work the nostalgia angle for a select few. But finding out that the central foundation of the piece would be everyone's love for Mountain Fuji brings the movie to an emotionally resonant place. This kind of inspires the reunion. I adored the reunion. It's such a small moment in the movie and it isn't part of the plan. But it also shows that people actually loved what they did. It is mind-blowing that GLOW led to people getting involved in the film business. I don't think that there are a ton of real success stories. But the movie might be a tale about the old adage, "Do what you love and you never work a day in your life." This seems to have been made under the worst conditions, but people can't speak more highly of the whole thing. That's pretty rad. I really liked that a lot.
The film is a good time. It isn't going to blow your mind. But if you are open to it, it might affect your heart a little bit. I love that I got emotionally moved in a documentary about women's wrestling in the '80s. I can put that on a resume.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.