I’m a sucker for nostalgia – and when I was invited to visit 20th Century Fox Studios to attend the screening of Russell Madness, I jumped at the chance.
This movie delivers 2 things that every wistful blogger needs: cute furry animals and family-togetherness.
Look at that wittle puppy wuppy! Sigh.
In the beginning of the film, the Ferraro family discovers an old wrestling arena in disrepair, and the mom says to her husband “It’s got nostalgia,” to which the daughter replies “What’s stalgia?”
Throughout the rest of the film, I kept thinking about “stalgia” and how it was represented throughout this film, even in some of the more hilarious moments.
For starters, the lovely Capuchin monkey, Crystal, known for her roles in films like Night at the Museum (all of them), The Hangover II, We Bought a Zoo (and more), plays a guido-esque talking monkey named Hunk.
Hunk has been around the wrestling business for years, and knows just what to do when a cute new dog, Russell, accidentally wins a wrestling competition and is thrust into the spotlight. From raw eggs to sweaty running scenes, I felt the spirit of Rocky (if Rocky were a wrestler), and couldn’t help laughing.
Later, when a mistake leaves the family in a financial tight-spot, there was the faintest shadow of It’s a Wonderful Life, especially when the father (Nate), played by David Milchard finds himself sitting in the office of Mr. Potter, err, Mick Vaughn, the jerk who single-handedly ran Nate’s grandfather out of the wrestling business.
Then, we get the excitement of the WUF (Wrestlers United Federation) which – if you remember the 80s as well as I do, is this film’s version of the WWF – and a throwback to wrestling superstars like (my favorite) Hulk Hogan.
So yes, this movie managed to combine the training of Rocky, the family drama of It’s a Wonderful Life and the raw excitement of the WWF, while adding in an adorable dog and hilarious monkey.
I think we’re all sold at this point.
What makes nostalgia (should we just keep going with “stalgia?”) so effective in a film is the memories we connect with it – which is usually home and family – the safe, warm and happy place we can return to when life gets too hard.
Russell, the Jack Russell Terrier and star of the film (although the entire cast agrees Hunk aka Crystal the Monkey was the real scene stealer) yearns to belong to a family, to have a home where he can be safe and loved. In many ways, he is the epitome of what makes nostalgia such a powerful emotion.
We want those warm and fuzzies because they remind us of who we are, where we come from, and what we aim to provide our own families.
Finally – if after all this feel-goodness you’re still unsure, John Hennigan (pro wrestler, actor, all around hottie) has a starring role in the film.
And…I got to meet him. Yes. He’s as handsome in person as he is in the film. But FYI – he rarely wears a shirt on screen.
Want more? Watch the official trailer below and grab the DVD on March 10th, (click here to buy on Amazon). Then come back and let me know what you thought!
This post was originally featured on Bryanne’s blog, Bryanne Bites The World.