If you've ever wanted, in a non-ironic, non-hipster sort of way, to attend a semi-pro wrestling match in small-town North Carolina, this doc is for you. Director Robert Greene takes a very generous stance toward a dozen of these rasslers, most of whom have low-paying day jobs to support their weekends in the ring. (Those earnings amount to "$20, a hot dog, and a slap on the ass," says one.) We watch them train, apply makeup, set up and tear down a stage in a rented VFW hall, and share cigs in the parking lot. They are, to a man, a likable bunch—none very articulate, all mutually supportive, and few with any delusions of reaching the WWF. (Refreshingly, none show any evidence of steroids or HGH, which they couldn't afford anyway.) Greene treats them all like members of an amateur theatrical company, and one member of this Millennium Wrestling Federation says they have a mission of "telling a story" with their various characters, betrayals, and alliances in the ring. Rejecting the term "fake," he continues, "I prefer 'staged.' " And, indeed, putting on a show involves real work. When Fake It So Real finally reaches the big Saturday event, you care enough to wince at their falls and bruises, even if you'd never actually pay to see the real thing in person. (Note: Greene's prior documentary, Kati With an I, plays at Northwest Film Forum next week.)
Greene's rasslers put on a show.
Runs Fri., March 23-Wed., March 28 at Grand Illusion. Not rated. 91 minutes.