The new Aronofsky film, The Wrestler, is getting rave early reviews. Everyone seems to agree on two things: it's a great film, and it's Mickey Rourke's comeback.
You'll have to excuse me for not really knowing who Mickey Rourke is. Sure, I've seem him in some movies, and he seems to be a pretty good actor, but I'm simply too young to remember his first go round. But even I know that this is not his comeback. David Ansen of Newsweek, one of my favorite critics, wins the idiot prize on this one: "To say this is a great comeback for an actor whose talent was exceeded only by his self-destructiveness is obvious."
That's right. It's obvious. So obvious that Ansen couldn't even say it without noting its obviousness.
So now we get to play a little game. What if there was an actor who flamed out a long time ago but started working his way back into relevance? What if he had a series of small and medium size roles in movies as diverse as Domino, The Pledge, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Man on Fire, and a few others over the course of the last decade? And what if that upward movement of a dead career (some might even call it (obviously) a "comeback") resulted in the biggest, juiciest, flashiest role in a movie that also featured Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Rutger Hauer, Rosario Dawson, Brittany Murphy, Benicio Del Toro, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Michael Clark Duncan, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, and Elijah Wood? And what if that actor outshone all of those other actors (even the good ones!) and was wisely praised for his role, his biggest in decades? And what if that movie opened #1 at the box office, quadrupled its production budget in gross revenue, and got everyone (even young people like me, who'd barely heard of this actor prior to this movie) talking about this actor?
Don't call The Wrestler a comeback, unless you want people to think that you can't remember 2005. And if you can't remember 2005, meet Marv: