Following the ubiquitous trend of safe and eccentric Canadian indies, Robert Cuffley’s dramedy features quirky characters in a small town anticipating an event that’s larger than life to them, but would be a modest footnote to anyone outside of their community.
The initial seed is planted during a high school reunion where Corey (Chris Marquette) is lovestruck by former girlfriend Sheena (Amanda Crew). Since their studies and a climactic bad memory, Sheena has developed a bit of a temper and has channeled that fury into a wrestling career. Corey – having the fate of a modest townie – lives with his Mom and works at the local delicatessen, occasionally running into old classmates.
Back to the reunion: Corey and Sheena meet up (actually, her elbow connects with his face), and they amuse themselves with their past as Sheena – now labeled as an unpredictable maniac – considers retirement. The career move is an adjustment for her overprotective manager/current boyfriend Tab (Niall Matter), but he accepts. What he’s not okay with, however, is Corey getting too close to Sheena.
Robert Cuffley’s filmmaking is barebones, but his basic approach works well when capturing Sheena’s fights in the ring. The shooting style lacks a specific energy that could’ve been provided by an outside-the-box editor, but the choreography is always in full-view. Cuffley also excels in establishing post-secondary lifestyles, making it easy for audiences to believe the relationships within Chokeslam’s world.
Cute chemistry is conjured by Amanda Crew (Sex Drive, HBO’s Silicon Valley) and Chris Marquette (who leads this film confidently after stealing many scenes as sidekicks in Just Friends, Fanboys, and Night of the Living Deb); their individual performances are likeable as well. Retired wrestler Mick Foley has an extended cameo which devoted WWE fans will be look forward to, but his forgettable appearance won’t mean much to people outside of that demographic.
Chokeslam is endearingly nice. A good sign for movie goers looking for light fare with giggles, but a blindside for those expecting anything else.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie