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It is the eccentric charm of some Canadian indie movies that they often feel like they pop into existence under the most unlikely circumstances.

Often they only vaguely resemble regular movies of their given genres. They appear with little regard as to whether or not there might be an audience for them. But they keep coming anyway, against all odds, like lightning in a snowstorm or orchids in the desert.

Chokeslam is one such eccentricity. Co-written and directed by Calgary’s Robert Cuffley, this is a prairie film that conjoins the romantic comedy with, as it was described in Barton Fink, the "wrestling picture."

It’s a desexualized love story of sorts, that starts with a platonic friendship between high school best buds Corey (Chris Marquette) and Sheena (Amanda Crew). He’s a bit of a nebbish, nurturing a heavy romantic crush. She’s intent on getting out of their podunk town (it was shot in Regina) to pursue a theatrical career in the realm of professional wrestling.

Corey effectively hammers a stake through their relationship with that most awful of romantic gestures: the public declaration of love.

She’s embarrassed. He’s humiliated. But it’s 10 whole years before Corey has a shot at what he foolishly calls "the C word" — closure — when Sheena, professionally dubbed "Smasheena," returns to her hometown for the more formal embarassment of a high school reunion.

Supplied</p><p>There's entertainment value in Chokeslam, but most of it comes from the appealing leads and Michael Eklund's (right) enjoyably menacing doofus.</p>


There's entertainment value in Chokeslam, but most of it comes from the appealing leads and Michael Eklund's (right) enjoyably menacing doofus.

Teaming up with the lowlife Luke (Michael Eklund), formerly the most-likely-to-succeed stud of his high school years, Corey contrives to have Smasheena stage a retirement bout in the old hometown as a means of cornering the cagey amazon into a full-blown relationship. Corey is prepared to ignore the roadblock represented by her promoter-boyfriend Tab (Niall Matter).

As he demonstrated in his Winnipeg-lensed kink-comedy Walk All Over Me, Cuffley has a penchant for imposing female heroines juxtaposed next to comparatively diminutive men, although we can’t be sure if the combination is meant to celebrate female empowerment or male submission. Probably both.

Still, this effort feels anachronistic. One imagines the wrestling rom-com might have been a good idea in the 1980s, when professional wrestling was in its prime and the pairing of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton indoctrinated us to the viability of Mutt-and-Jeff romantic pairings.

In this film, however, it feels a bit insipid. The wrestling is a dim echo of current pro-wrestling provocation.

The love story is weirdly chaste, notwithstanding the implicit kink of the you-slap-me-I’ll-slap-you scene.

That’s not to say there isn’t entertainment value.

Both leads are appealing and Eklund enjoys himself as a vaguely menacing doofus.

Even if it’s a low-energy lightning strike in a snowstorm, you can’t help be impressed by the improbability of it all.

randall.king@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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