By Ygal Kaufman
Pretty Fly(weight) for an Old Guy
In a hybrid of sports, movie, and reality TV news, Mickey Rourke was back in the ring last week. The 62-year-old actor, who started his career off in the ‘60s as an amateur boxer before hitting it big on the silver screen, took a break from acting in the early ‘90s to become a professional fisticuffer. Most accounts of his fighting career hold that he was a pretty decent, if unmemorable, fighter and in no way embarrassed himself or the sport during his short pro career. Since his acting career has been resuscitated to nearly the levels of his ‘80s glory days, why not give boxing another go, too?
Oh, I know why—because he’s 62, and that premise is even less plausible in real life than it was when his good friend Sylvester Stallone tried it on the big screen in Rocky Balboa (2006) and then again in Grudge Match (2013).
Rourke KO’d a 29-year-old former Golden Gloves champ, Elliot Seymour, in the second round of their fight before a packed Moscow arena this past weekend. That’s right. Mickey Rourke knocked out a pro fighter less than half his age in the second round. And if you believe that, Vladimir Putin has some land in Ukraine to sell you.
As anyone who has watched the ridiculous footage could easily have told you without a moment’s deliberation, the fight was fixed. Word came out just a few days after that Seymour, who indeed was once a professional boxer, has mental problems and is homeless. He was paid to fall down, and Rourke’s win was merely a fictional exhibition to line everyone’s pockets. But I must stress again, this was patently obvious to anyone who watched the footage. Rourke’s punches were moving slowly enough that if Seymour had actually attempted to dodge any of them, it would have looked like the bullet-time sequence from The Matrix. Then after a few moments of Rourke hamming it up on the ropes, he delivers what appears to be some sort of friendly tickle to Seymour’s midsection, and then the kid just drops like the week two box office totals for Dumb & Dumber To.
There are so many storylines that dovetail nicely here, it’s hard to know where to start: Rourke, geriatric heroics, Stallone, Russia, mental illness, homelessness, concussive aftereffects on athletes, The Expendables 3’s DVD release…
The only thing more preposterous than the show-fight, which brings back memories of Soviet-era everything, was Rourke’s appearance as he sauntered to the ring, seemingly under only mild sedation. He looked like Eric Roberts’ and Lorenzo Lamas’ plastic surgeons teamed up to design an action figure for men in their 50s.
No word yet on whether or not Mid-Life Crisis Man will fight again.
That subhead may have been misleading. It’s hard to sell sarcasm in one word, so please imagine me rolling my eyes extra hard about the jean-creaming going on over the new Star Wars: Episode VII trailer that was released this past weekend. For those of you living under a rock (at the bottom of the ocean 40 years ago), there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out next year. The series notably started with Episode IV (supposedly as part of a grand canon, though again I refer you to my eye-rolling) 37 years ago. Since then it’s been spun off countless times in a million different media formats, but the core product has always been the feature films. Long after the initial trilogy ended in 1982, it was revived for a trilogy of prequels (Episodes 1-3) in the late ‘90s. Those movies were so forgettable and yawn-inducing, though incredibly profitable, that they figured they’d try it again. Now we have a trilogy of sequels on the way, in addition to some stand-alone projects, and people couldn’t be more excited.
Unless the person in question is me.
Don’t get me wrong, putting JJ Abrams in the driver’s seat of the most beloved film franchise of all time is a great idea. The anointed king of twist-driven TV (creator of Lost, Alias, and Felicity) has already shown his storytelling-to-millennials bona fides, and has breathed new life into the Mission Impossible and Star Trek film series’. And the glimpses we’re getting in the trailer, notably of the great Oscar Isaac behind the controls of an X-Wing, and John Boyega (standout young British actor from 2011’s Attack the Block) in a Stormtrooper uniform, are enough to inspire excitement in even this cynical hater.
It’s just the coming year of anticipation and measured roll-outs that I am dreading. Every week will feature a new little glimpse, and tiny controversy; “Oh, my God, they showed a Stormtrooper’s face! And he’s black! George Lucas is a racist. No, wait… Abrams is! Or maybe I am? Anticipation!”
This is going to be unbearable.