I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.
Ten years since High School graduation, deli clerk (Chris Marquette) still lives in the shadow of the humiliating public rejection of his marriage proposal to High School sweetheart Sheena DeWilde (Amanda Crew). Sheena is now a successful, if troubled, Pro-Wrestler, and is returning to town for their High School reunion and announce her retirement. Corey struggles both to make the event a success for Sheena, and to remind her of what they once had.
Chokeslam is another rom-com.
Is this going to be a thing? How many rom-coms am I going to watch for this project and dangit, how many am I going to enjoy?
I really thought going into this movie that I wouldn’t like it. I should know by now to ignore ratings especially with Canadian media because I’ve found lower budget Canadian films and TV shows aren’t judged to the same level as other projects. I read a few reviews that automatically took away stars, points, whatever their unit of measurement was because Chokeslam had a lower budget. Shouldn’t we be looking at all lower budget films on the same level?
With that in mind Chokeslam makes the most of its funding, filmed in small town Lumsden and larger city Regina, Saskatchewan it takes the traditional romantic comedy framework and twists it by adding wrestling and a rather complex female role with issues and troubles that make her multi-layered and interesting. Sheena (Crew) is the wrestler coming back to the small town she grew up in and that’s known only for her (there are big billboards with her picture and stage name on them coming into town). Amanda Crew does an outstanding job. Leading man Chris Marquette playing Corey Swanson has just as many layers, shaped by first a failed marriage proposal to Sheena and then a misunderstanding that landed him in hospital. His life is as simple as wanting to own the deli he works in.
But what about Michael Eklund? In this movie he plays Luke Petrie, the quintessential “popular guy in high school who has amounted to nothing in life.”
The sidekick to the leading male role played by Chris Marquette, we start the episode with him trying to rob the deli that Corey works at for money to get something to wear to the 10 year high school reunion (so he says). However, after that he quickly steps up to help Corey get Sheena’s attention and while this seems strange for a guy who wouldn’t have given Corey the time of day in high school he seems to have reformed his ways. (It’s only later in the movie we learn that there is another, sneakier reason for this).
Luke is suddenly there for Corey and can be counted on for some making some decisions that Corey can’t make because he’s too worried or anxious. Corey lives up to the stereotype of a 28 year old still living at home with a very overprotective mother. Luke is the exact opposite, a bit older and a total free spirit with no job or parent to hold him back. He doesn’t think about stuff, he just does it! (Again, he robs a DELI at the very beginning of the movie.)
Then there’s Luke eating, ALL THE TIME. Except for two occasions, one of which he’s holding a frozen steak to his eye, anytime you see Eklund’s character on screen he is eating something. (The other occasion is the reunion and I saw no food for him to eat)
Hospital, apartment, arena, diner, Corey’s house… regardless of the location, if you see Luke Petrie on screen you will see him eating and I’m not sure if they were trying to portray something in particular or just made it a quirk of his. The best I can think of would be the starving punk trope (given the vest, boots and mohawk) and with the state of his apartment set in a noisy run down building. Luke’s style is best described as prairie-punk with some jewelry that I’m pretty sure is Eklund’s personal jewelry as we’ve seen on other productions and in interviews for films like Eadweard.
(click images to enlarge)
This movie is very Canadian, but I mean that in a very good way. It’s refreshing to see something set in late summer with characters dressed appropriately for that time in Canada. Saskatchewan is not Vancouver, BC and doesn’t see the mild weather that the westernmost province does. All the characters wear layers, proper shoes and spend time outside as though the temperature is in the early teens range (celsius). They also brought in Canadian wrestlers and Mick Foley, who although not Canadian was a pro-wrestler and colour commentator now signed to WWE.
Even if you’re not a fan of wrestling, this movie will draw you in with interesting characters and a twist on an overdone genre. Michael Eklund is also fantastic in it, and the movie is worth it just for his performance alone.