One night only: Fancypants at AMC Westshore

Plus: Slime City Massacre gums up Tampa Pitcher Show.

Winner of Best Picture at 2011’s Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Fancypants appears at first glance to be just a goofy, low-budget wrestling flick. Though it is both of those things, the movie also has a good story and a lot of heart.

Patrick Gleason (a man who landed the role in this Humble Pie Films production right after being released from prison) stars as Leo “The Blue Lion,” an out of shape, well past his prime wrestler knocking heads for a federation that severely lacks fans. The company at least has a kick-ass broadcast team in the form of Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds) and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, arguably the greatest pro wrestler never to win a championship and an old hand at acting who starred in John Carpenter’s They Live. As he’s being forced to retire, Leo finds purpose in life in the form of his only fan, Tommy (first-timer Jackson Dunn), a young boy who idolizes his favorite wrestler and has problems of his own.

Fancypants mixes comedy and heavy-handed drama in what is basically a no-budget production (most noticeable in the modest sets and a small cast). The changes in pace can feel a bit weighty at times, but writer/director Joshua Russell has made more than a simple wrestling film here. Ex-con Gleason does well playing a guy who compensates for being a loser in real life by refusing to do anything but win in the ring. My gripe with the wrestling matches portrayed are that they seem to be both scripted and real at the same time, with Leo getting beaten down and bloodied for real even as the match is fixed. While I see this is convenient to how the story unfolds, I’m undecided on whether or not I agree with the choice. And as a fan of professional wrestling, I think it’s a big deal.

Fancypants has shades of The Wrestler and even the beloved (by me at least) 2000 film Ready to Rumble, but also contains unique moments and aspects to dwell on. It’s a satisfying movie experience that’s not necessarily just for wrestling fans, but for people who like charming stories about salvation.

Fancypants not your thing? Also playing on Feb. 9 is Slime City Massacre, which screens at 9:30 p.m. at the Tampa Pitcher Show at an event that will feature appearances by the film’s director Greg Lamberson, and stars Lee Perkins and Miss Helena Mayhem. The trailer for this movie (see below) is disturbing, sexual and gruesome — though not necessarily in that order. I’m sure it’ll be a good ‘ole time at the movies.

Wait a second … Fancypants is at 7 p.m. at AMC Westshore and Slime City Massacre is at 9:30 p.m. at the Tampa Pitcher Show. Why not make it a double feature and do both? You can make it! Just drive safely …

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