Thursday, January 26, 2006


Finally saw the above documentary about the hardcore life of wheelchair rugby players. They sure are angry, these guys. They hold grudges, they snap at loved ones, they cry when they lose. Your natural assumption is that they are angry because they are in wheelchairs. I think I came to believe, though, that these just happen to be angry guys who happened to be in wheelchairs.

They’re not all that way, of course, but the movie seems to focus on the ones that are—Joe, the former mvp who “defects” to the Canadian team when he gets cut, lives for wheelchair rugby the way I used to live for IU basketball: even when they’re playing, he’s too stressed out to enjoy himself or be in the moment. At home, he’s a jerk to his kid and comes across as distant to his wife. Out to dinner with her for their anniversary, for example, she makes a toast to them and he toasts back “to the Canadian team.”

I would have liked to see some other things developed more here. As a biker gearhead, I would have loved to hear them talk about the gladiator style chairs they use in the matches; I wonder if they would express similar affection for their rides just like when cyclists talk about their new bikes. There were some other things I missed, too, but I can’t remember them right now.

My favorite scenes were with the former motocross racer who was just learning how to get used to his wheelchair and then learns about murderball. He gets into one of the armored chairs, loaned to him by one of the featured guys, and you see a change come over him. For the first time since he was paralyzed, you can see that he’s not thinking about limitations, but possibilities. It’s actually pretty moving.

I also have to say that wheelchairs didn’t keep these guys from landing some pretty wonderful girlfriends. It’s funny how you don’t feel sorry for any of them at the end of this movie—or at least not as sorry as you think you might. That’s probably the whole point.


Random1001.5 said...

That's sounds like an interesting movie, although I’m not a big movie person it might be interesting to see. Being with a physical disability myself, I know you have to adapt to situations. I’ve had it all my life, and even though it has gotten less physically disabled, my left hand still isn’t what you would call fully-functional, but I still get around, and I don’t believe many people know about it. I wonder if that’s a good thing?

Mountain Biking Mama said...

Funny how you compare Joe's obsession with his sport to your former obsession with IU Basketball. The difference is, he actually played the game. It confirms by belief that you actually think you're an important part of the team when you sit in the chair three feet from the screen and yell at them.

Tito said...

C, you have me in stitches! In fact, Mr. Hill, let's combine the two - I'd like to see *you* out there hitting one from the top of the key in a wheelchair!

Almighty Ryan said...

I'm slightly disappointed in hearing about the kind of person that Joe, the main character, is. Everything that I have seen from the previews and such have made him out to be this kind of person that is nothing like what you described. I still hold an interest in seeing this documentary but it's slightly disappointing to know that the movie glorifies a person that regardless of where his physical status is, you can't feel sorry for him whatsoever.

Mr. Hill said...

Keep in mind that the guy you see on all the posters for this movie is not Joe--it's Zupan, or is it Zuban; I forget. Zupan is the one with the goatee and cool tat on his back. He comes across as a complicated guy who grows up a little during the movie.

Joe, OTOH, doesn't change a whole lot even after he has a freakin' heart attack. Through editing and by cherry picking some dialogue, they try to make him look like he's changed at the end, but I didn't really buy it. I'd say he's not exactly glorified by this movie.

Almighty Ryan said...

I'm surprised than that Zupan (what a name...) isn't the main character seeing as how he was so heavily 'advertised' to promote this film. I even think he was on quite a few talk shows and such. I would have pictured him being the main character, but for obvious reasons. Thank you for clarifying! :)