Tell me if you have heard this one before: Hot shot reluctantly returns to his place of birth, reconnects with an old flame, and find himself at crossroads: Should he rejoin the rat race or relish the simple life? The hot shot is normally accompanied by a snotty girlfriend and left town ignominiously in the first place.
Chokeslam flips the genres, adds wrestling to the mix, but essentially follows the same pattern. Shot partially in Regina, this romantic comedy is reminiscent of another movie shot in the Queen City, Just Friends, only less amusing.
The story is told from the perspective of the one left behind, Corey (Chris Marquette, Fanboys). A clerk at a deli, the protagonist is still enduring the effects of a poorly timed declaration of love. At the time, the object of Corey’s affections was Sheena (Amanda Crew, Silicon Valley), who would go on becoming Smasheena, an ill-tempered wrestler who has run afoul of her league.
Corey and Sheena reencounter at a high school reunion (quite possibly the oldest trick in the scriptwriter’s book). Deep-seated wounds quickly give way to a rediscovered camaraderie, but Corey has more than mending fences in mind.
If you have any misgivings about Amanda Crew playing a pro-wrestler, that’s the least of Chokeslam’s issues. Crew and Marquette manage to ground the film and successfully navigate character inconsistencies and overall unfunniness (butt jokes stink of desperation). Michael Eklund -so good in Eadweard– is the wrong pick for comic relief and can’t find a handle on the zany sidekick role. Retired WWF champion Mick “Mankind” Foley pops up here and there, but is not given much to do.
A recurrent visual gag is the height difference between Sheena and Corey. The disparity varies thorough the film and the proportions are off (it’s not enough to put Amanda Crew on an apple box). It would be nitpicking if it wasn’t so noticeable. 1.5/5 prairie dogs.
Chokeslam is now playing at the Cineplex Southland.