From tusk till brawn

Somewhere on your Google machines, you can find a Top 10 list of the best arm-wrestling movies of all time. Perched at No. 4 is “Over the Top,” Sylvester Stallone’s 1987 flop opus about the sport. And the other nine spots are completely blank.

I’d like to think that even if the chart weren’t a joke, the brand-new “Walrus” would sit pretty at No. 1, but it’s about more than mere intertwined fists. Much more. See for yourself when the feature film makes its worldwide debut Saturday at City Arts Center, with free beer and a live musical performance by Samantha Crain.

The latest opus from local director Mickey Reece (“Punch Cowboy,” “The Seducers Club”), “Walrus” tells the sad story of underground arm-wrasslin’ champ Wallace Mulroney (Kameron Primm), he of the wet-mop hair and little words.

Managed by one-armed Tommy Pistino (Oklahoma Gazette contributing writer Danny Marroquin), Wallace feels like he’s “lost it,” despite a winning streak. With the arrival of his Russian mail-order bride, Olga (Rebecca Cox, pictured), comes a life-upending twist I’m not about to spoil. Sexually abused by her father, Olga sees Wallace as her salvation, even if she misspeaks his name as “Walrus.” Observes an amused Tommy, “She can’t pronounce your name right! She’s foreign! Ain’t that somethin’?” The film truly is. Reece has fierce comic timing, and he’s able to draw strong performances out of actors who aren’t necessarily actors, especially for a production with an estimated budget of $500. It’s a testament to Reece’s ridiculous amount of talent that one can tell of the limitations only when the Russians’ home looks like a house in Moore, with a photo of former Gov. George Nigh smiling down from the living room wall.

Reece and his ever-capable cast take us down one weird path you’ll be more than happy to follow. The director has peppered the trail with music cues as apropos as Martin Scorsese, ranging from Del Shannon’s “Runaway” to Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”

The latter arrives in a semi-fantasy scene sure to crush the hearts of many viewers, as Olga conveys her joy of having escaped from under her father’s thumb (so to speak) by lip-synching the optimistic pop hit. Cox pulls it off with admirable aplomb.

It’s kind of like that polarizing scene in “Magnolia” when the various characters take turns singing Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up”: You’ll either get it or hate it with the passion of a thousand suns.

I get it. I totally get it.

Rod Lott

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