Inside Out

tn_insideoutDespite the prestigious WWE Studios logo I had no reason to believe in this crime thriller starring the long-haired pro wrestler now credited as “Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque.” I looked up the director (Artie Mandelberg), he’s a TV guy going back to Moonlighting. The writer (Dylan Schaffer) had no credits before this one. I almost didn’t rent it, but I thought it was funny that ’90s indie queen Parker Posey was in a WWE movie. I forgot she’d already worked with Triple H in BLADE 3. Could they be on their way to becoming this generation’s William Powell and Myrna Loy?

Usually a movie with this type of pedigree wouldn’t pan out, but this is the one-in-every-once-in-a-while one that I’m always looking for, the one that’s better and more interesting than anybody expected. Like Dave Bautista in HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN it’s a muscleman giving a sincere performance as a bottom-of-the-totem-pole criminal trying to do the right thing and getting pulled into somebody else’s bullshit. I liked that one but this one is better – it’s a little quirkier, has a little more personality and it doesn’t have a shitty rock soundtrack.

mp_insideoutThe movie starts with the voice of Michael Rapaport (BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST) seemingly narrating about this friend of his who went to prison. But then we see that he’s standing there talking. And then we see that he’s talking to a dog. He’s Jack Small, and he’s there to pick up his friend A.J. (Triple H), fresh off 13 years in Angola for manslaughter. A.J. has a box of pickle jars under his arm, which is unusual in my opinion.

See, I’m still searching for the perfect badass juxtaposition to use some day, and this is one that hadn’t occurred to me yet: an ex-con who’s “not going back to work” and his dream is to make pickles. And they never make a joke about how he ends up getting into a pickle. I guess maybe I just did. It’s hard to say.

They establish right away what close friends Jack and A.J. are. There’s some tension because Jack married A.J.’s sweetheart Claire (Posey) and had a daughter named Pepper (Juliette Goglia). Still, he lets A.J. stay in the guest room like he’s family.

The friendship is genuine, but one thing we learned from KISS OF DEATH is that an ex-con trying to keep his nose clean should point it in the opposite direction of Michael Rapaport. I think Jack sincerely just wants to work with his buddy again, but he needs to learn to lay off. He keeps dragging poor A.J. into business that he has clearly stated he wants no part of. Come on, go with me to this place, come on just say hi to him, just meet this guy real quick, just count this money for me. When he fucks up and marvins a guy* he doesn’t try to keep A.J. involved, he tries to get him to leave. But A.J. takes a deep breath, pistol whips Jack for being such an idiot, and takes over the cleanup operation. (See, it’s a pickle.)

Another thing we learned from KISS OF DEATH is that Nic Cage can bench press Hope Davis. INSIDE OUT doesn’t have anything that insane, but it’s got some flavor. It has the basics of a type of story that we’ve seen before, but the details are all tweaked. For example, A.J. is not as glamorous as most wrestler-played protagonists. Not only is he obsessed with pickles, he drives a station wagon with fake wood paneling. But he knows how to handle himself. When he decides to punch out a car window, for example, he wraps his fists in cardboard.

Jack’s dad, the crime boss who wants A.J. to work for him again (and is played by Bruce Dern!), is an old mob guy from back in the day that all the cops would love to bust but nobody has anything on him. He headquarters his operation out of the back of a veterinary hospital, which he also seems to run. I’m not 100% sure he’s doing surgeries himself, but he’s wearing a white coat and there are dogs there and everything. Anyway his operation isn’t drugs or guns or protection money, it’s cigarettes. He buys them tax free and sells them and there’s big money in it.

The cop that’s after him is not your usual renegade detective, she’s a hard-working but non-tough-talking agent played by Julie White, the mom from the TRANSFORMERSes. She has an informant on the inside but the investigation is falling apart and one of her biggest obstacles is that she’s having a hell of a time convincing other cops that it’s even a crime she’s investigating. We first see her in a small conference room with a bunch of pie charts trying to explain to some guys how money from cigarette smuggling funds al Qaeda. Even though I was already rooting for A.J. to get out of this mess and become one of the country’s premiere picklers I liked this lady right away and wanted her to succeed too, even though she’s on the other side, sort of.

One sort of mysterious character is Bruce Dern’s scary henchwoman Irena (Jency Griffin), who does alot of (but not all of) his dirty work. She never talks and she makes crazy faces when she’s beating up men. I thought maybe she was supposed to be deaf, but there’s a part where she seems to overhear important information. She could still be mute though.

You can respect A.J. trying to help out his friend, but you almost want him to turn snitch, because really he had nothing to do with this and it honestly was an accident. Jack even says at first that he should just go tell the truth about what happened. But then he wants to take the money.

There was one point where I was disappointed in a choice A.J. made. He seems like such an honorable guy but then he’s careless about letting the teenage girl see her mom in bed with him. Not cool, man. I expected more out of you. Probly ruined pickles for her forever.

Relationships with parents is a major theme in the movie. From the time A.J. gets out Jack is always bugging him to visit his mother. He keeps avoiding it and when he finally goes to see her it’s short and awkward. Martha, the cop, has a father in the same home, who gives her coply advice and whose cancer is part of the reason she’s fixated on cigarette smugglers. Jack has a contentious relationship with his father, who he’s always trying to please and who doesn’t respect him at all. Even their friend who owns the bar where the accident happens has an elderly mother living upstairs. And through all this the most important thing for Jack is to be a good father to Pepper.

Seeing that collection of actors on the cover made me laugh, but watching the movie I didn’t feel like any of them were phoning it in, slumming or out of their element. They all give solid performances. Rapaport is his usual ball of nervous energy and jibber jabber, but it’s a sympathetic kind of annoying. You can see how he’s exhausting to A.J. but also means well.

I’m not familiar with Triple H’s wrestling, and he didn’t strike me as one whose ring charisma would translate to the screen when I saw him in BLADE 3. But he’s really natural in this, I liked him. I even watched all the interviews with him on the DVD and found him very likable. They also have Bruce Dern on there talking, I think sincerely, about Triple H’s strong screen presence and how good he is at listening during his scenes.

This isn’t a movie I would beg you to see like UNIVERSAL SOLDIER REGENERATION, BLOOD AND BONE or the UNDISPUTEDs, but I do consider it a gem of some kind. It’s less of an awesome kick to your ass and more of a low key charm, but there’s room for that in the DTV renaissance. We need some humble, hard workers like this.

mp_thinman

*having seen two accidental discharge deaths in recent movies (this and SETUP) I figured there should be a word for them and that the word should come from the part in PULP FICTION that probly inspired them.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 11:43 pm and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

21 Responses to “Inside Out”

  1. “Usually a movie with this type of pedigree wouldn’t pan out…”

    I’m not even sure if you meant to make that joke but I appreciate it all the same.

  2. AU (Formerly Cunt (Formerly AU_Armageddon (Formerly the Artist Formerly Known As AU_Armageddon)))

    October 5th, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Yeah it wasn’t bad at all, but I didn’t appreciate the false advertising. When I pick up a movie with a heavy hitter on the front cover holding a gun I get geared up to sit on through an action movie, always in the hopes for that one day again when it will be like when i picked up Stone Cold. This however was like when I picked up Boiling Point with Snipes on the cover with a gun expecting another Passenger 57.

    These crime dramas are all well and good, just prefer to put them on earlier in the drinking day and not when I’m already tanked, or at the end of the day when it dun matter – just not in the middle. No consideration for alcoholics at all this type of marketing. Mebbe need a new rating system in the corner depicting number of beers instead of listing genres. Would make for a handy website – mebbe someone could rate movies for all the major drug groups i.e. Inside Out would get a low amphetamine rating, and the middle of the movie is too much of a downer for your ecstacy and cannabis range so they are out, but the pacing is perfect for something like the first uptake hours of acid – the first 30 minutes would feel like a lifetime with Triple H as your buddy and you’d carry that with you forever – like when captain Picard learned his flute.

  3. Nice THIN MAN poster.

  4. I LOVE Parker Posey. You know what movie she was in? JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. You should review that one. Donno if I mentioned that before. My birthday is coming up in about, exactly 30 days. Just saying.

  5. Great review. I love how all the new WWE films show up immediately on Netflix Instant. One of these days I’m going to have a marathon of them, especially b/c I heard the John Cena/Patricia Clarkson amateur wrestling movie is surprisingly good, and so is the Randy Orton/Ed Harris coming of age movie.

    Also, Vern should be pleased to know that storyline-wise, Triple H is in a great one right now on RAW. Long been seen as a corporate suck-up, he recently found himself in charge of the WWE when the old owner went crazy (sounds like the pilot to a sitcom – ex-wrestler inherits wrestling federation). He gets to be a leader now instead of a fighter (like The Rock in Gridiron Gang), and the final scene from this Monday’s RAW, with the federation revolting on him, was strangely powerful stuff.

  6. Every episode of Raw, Smackdown, and even their PPVs has had way too many commercials for this movie. I will give it a shot if Vern likes it, though!

    I’m not a Triple H fan. He had influential friends and married into the family but I don’t think he could have been as big as he was on his own merits. He’s not bad but he’s not great, either.

    I also really hate what happened at Night of Champions. CM Punk didn’t get buried, but they took the best angle wrestling has had for the last 10+ years and killed it. I’m sure Triple H had a big hand in that. His current role is OK but it’s hard to not get a strong fascist vibe when he just yells at people to be strong and do their job and to not complain about unsafe working conditions. I’ll be a lot happier once he goes away again and comes out for bigger events. He’s not an effective company head like VKM and I hope he realizes it. Don’t get me wrong, if he ends The Streak I’ll stop watching but I’m hopeful they won’t be that transparently awful.

  7. Yeah, WWE have been overpromoting the fuck out of this film. What cracks me up about it though is that it comes across like a darker, more realistic remake of Triple H’s last movie:
    http://youtu.be/tKZfReufnzw

  8. The reactions to the end of RAW are really something. I hated that ending because it came off to me as HHH burying the entire roster to get himself over. It was the climax of the shifting the focus from the Punk angle to the HHH show and my enthusiasm for wrestling has gone from and really high in July to uhhh…. I can’t think of anything to rhyme with October but suffice to say I’m pretty bummed.

    Still, that ending seemed to really resonate with the live crowd and a lot of other fans really like it, so there must be something I’m missing.

    So THE MARINE 3 is being written for a WWE Superstar who has yet to be named. How about ROYAL MARINE starring Wade Barret?

  9. I haven’t seen any wrestling for about ten years. I can’t believe some of these old names are still at it. Is Rick Flare still alive?

  10. Yes, but he’s more machine now than man.

  11. I agree, marlow. They even hurt Beth Phoenix on Monday. I’m sure she could kick my ass in real life and they finally let her destroy Kelly Kelly (who I wouldn’t mind if she could wrestle but she can’t) but now she’s supposed to be scared because she’s a woman and she might be attacked or something? Fuck that noise.

    Things were looking so promising in July. Christian was getting a good push, but they have since made him into an annoying loser who isn’t even a credible threat to Santino. They turned Sheamus face, which is good since he was always likable, but they went overboard and are starting to make him Cena v2.

    Triple H’s ego is starting to bury people, which is a real shame.

    I’m hopeful, though. Nash seems to be gone for good. Mark Henry is getting pushed well and they seem to be moving past his feud with Orton. I think Miz and R Truth are getting a fun push and are getting a lot of heat and are looking to be credible threats. If they can give CM Punk something to do again and maybe let Bryan Danielson win a match or two (he is the best wrestler in the world, afterall) then I would be a lot happier.

  12. I read that as “Kelly Welly” and I was like “Damn, they got Mark Trail themed lady wrestlers now?”

  13. What got me about the ending of Raw, the wrestlers and officials were complaining about it being an unsafe work environment cause of people attacking them after matches, people hitting officials and announces, people attacking other people in the back, etc…umm, how is this ANY different from wrestling of, umm, the last 20 years?

    What made it even funnier was that Mark Henry of all people was out there nodding along in agreement with them. Isn’t he the same Mark Henry who’s attacked people in the back, attacked people after their matches, put another wrestler “on the shelf”(and threatened to do so again, earlier in the show) and attacked the announcer, Jerry Lawler? Isn’t his wanting something to be done about that sorta activity akin to a cartel leader demanding harder crackdowns on drug trafficking?

  14. Yeah, there’s definitely alot of storyline and character inconsistencies going on, but I guess what I liked best about the end of RAW was that the good guys turned on Triple H too. His “boss” storyline definitely presented him as a good guy, so when he made assholish, unsympathetic decisions (i.e. telling his employees to “suck it up”), it sorta felt wrong and it’s nice that they acknowledged that. I guess that’s one thing wrestling has over movies, is that it dabbles in split sympathies and shades of gray more often. (i.e. the Cena and CM Punk storyline).

    Speaking of which, anyone else feel they wrote themselves into a corner with the whole Rock vs. Cena angle? By having them both point out how lame they are (Cena bringing up The Tooth Fairy and Rock’s disappearing, Rock making fun of Cena’s fanbase) they kinda ended up making both of them heels. I have no idea how it’s going to play out when they finally fight.

  15. Well they’re going to be on the same team at Survivor Series, so there’ll probably be some new developments with the storyline there, but overall I think WWE are HOPING for a split fanbase so that come Wrestlemania, the dueling crowd reactions give the match a very memorable atmosphere.

  16. Mr. Majestyk:

    For a second I miss-read “Kelly Welly” as Kelly Wells. And I was like whoa…she’s pretty hardcore to be in an even vaguely ‘mainstream’ movie. But at the same time, she’s probably more of an athlete than anyone else in the film.

    I uh…wouldn’t advise actually googling her.

  17. Great review Vern, and I love THE THIN MAN poster you made. I want to see that film.

  18. neal2zod – I want to be intrigued by that storyline, but the conclusion is very fucking THE VILLAGE obvious: The mastermind is Vince McMahon. It kills the suspense for me. Yawn.

    As for Rock/Cena, I think WM is banking on the marks/kids backing Cena, and the disgruntled adults and young men to back (w/ nostalgia) Mr. The Rock. Remember that WM main event years back when the older fans badly wanted HBK to beat Cena? Same idea, just with more money involved. I agree with Stu.

    Casey – NOC pissed me off, from the pointless Cena title win (which he lost promptly pointlessly at the next PPV) to that Punk finish. Jesus Trips, you didn’t need that win. Come to think of it, there is a problem when the main focus of your main event narrative is a guy who’s only worked 2 matches this year.

    I mean Jesus I hate the Cena booking/character, whatever you want to call it (even if I think he gets a shaft from on-line smarks on his workrate) but hey as your promotion’s MVP, he wrestles full-time as your supposed star. You expect that.

    Still there is hope: Punk just passed Cena in merchandise sales. Did anyone read Punk’s kayfabe tweet about that Raw walk-out? Damn give that fucker a microphone monday and let him rehash that (with bad words cut out) and I would care again about that story, calling the lockeroom/staff pussies for walking out.

    I’ve also liked the current Mark Henry booking, and turning Sheamus face because the fans wanted it. WHAT A SHOCKING CONCEPT. Hell let Henry finish Orton clean at Survivor Series and let Orton feud with Cody Rhodes. Then by Wrestlemania, Sheamus is the one to dethrone the monster.

    Or if you want to be bold and risky, Daniel Bryan. Pure underdog narrative that writes itself, think Sting/Vader.

    Marlow – THE MARINE 3…starring Zach Ryder. Woot Woot BANG, you know it!

    Stu – Oh Trips, trying still to be a movie star with his company’s money. Funny too that nobody thinks of him first whenever they think of the Attitude Era. They think of Austin, Rock, Undertaker, Foley, Vince…then Trips. Maybe.

    Come to think of it, Trips only got “over” as main event when he became the heel and gave people an excuse to hate him and his marrying into the company.

  19. Oh and Chikara event at my town tonight, which I’m going to.

    Definately more entertaining than seeing a has-been burying the roster.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBeOQExmI-0

  20. WM is going to be great next year because of the crowd. There’s no way that Miami crowd will be anywhere close to being evenly split between Cena and The Rock. It’s going to be like MitB this year and the crowd played a big part in that being one of the best PPVs in a long time.

    Whenever I think of Triple H I think of this:
    http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/215/895/HHH11_original_crop_340x234.jpg?1317863528

    He’s just such a shitty dude. If they wanted to end the feud between Triple H and Punk they could have done it in a million other ways. Instead, Trip wins (which is okay on its own, I guess) after a really excellent match by Punk. The problem was that at the end Trip did his whole “suck it” thing and just made Punk look like weak. Had Triple H came out and told Punk that he respected him and that Punk pushed him to his limits and really showed respect to Punk then the feud could have ended. Instead, it just made Punk look weak and Triple H look even stronger.

    I think Mark Henry is working out great as a monster heel. I hope he has a long run, too. There’s no need for Sheamus to beat him at Wrestlemania since Sheamus is already over. Having someone like Daniel Bryan, who is going to cash in his briefcase at WM, beat Mark Henry would be great and it would give someone like Bryan a chance to get popular.

    I watched TNA on Thursday and it wasn’t as bad as I remember! It’s not great, but it has a few things going for it. The commentary is better and never distracts, I liked the backstage interviews and segments, and most matches left both the winner and loser look strong at the end. I think they have some really good young talent and the quicker they get rid of Flair, Hogan, Angle, and even Sting the better of they will be.

    Speaking of Sting, I was talking with a friend tonight and it occurred to me that every one of Sting’s gimmicks have been really fucking awful but I still end up really liking Sting. I lived in Key West for a few years as a kid and my dad took me to a WCW show and I got to slap Sting on the back as he walked out to the ring. Sting was a cool dude when I was 9 years old.

    Hey, Vern, maybe we could get a wrestling Potpourri or something? I mean, there’s a few of us here that dig this goofy shit. <3

  21. YES on the wrestling potpourri topic!

    Oh and that Chikara show I went to, best wrestling event I’ve ever been to. Better than the one WWE show, four WCW shows (from back in the day) and countless local indy shows. All around good wrestling card from opening match (won by marching band heel Archibald Peck) to the main event with “Queen of Wrestling” Sara Del Rey pinning Japanese womens superstar Kana.

    Best match might have to be Fire Ant and Soldier Ant against other Japanese wrestlers Kotoge & Harada. You never win against giant humanoid ants.

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