Don't Judge a Movie By Its WWE Affiliation: The Pulpy Surprise of Inside Out

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Inside Out
Directed by Artie Mandelberg
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Opens September 9

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A vehicle for a professional wrestler in which choke holds aren't administered until the 65th minute, this WWE-produced thriller is the best kind of bait-and-switch, auguring cranium-crushing action but instead delivering a meandering, eccentric, downright adorable existential crime yarn. Paul "Triple H" Levesque stars as AJ, a recent ex-con whose plan to go legit is immediately tested by the murderous stupidity of his boozy, blustery best friend, Jack (Michael Rapaport), the son of an aging New Orleans crime boss (Bruce Dern), and husband to AJ's high school sweetheart, Claire (Parker Posey). A scattershot throwback that steals elements from seedy '70s character studies, disreputable '80s vigilante flicks, even street-tough allegories from the '30s, Inside Out also dances to the confidently unhurried beat of its own drum. While Triple H is hardly Hackman or Cagney—with his self-consciously stout line-readings and perma-wet ponytail, he's more like a steroidal Steven Seagal—he and his overqualified co-stars make the most of screenwriter Dylan Schaffer's arch-pulp dialogue. About his surprising literacy, AJ explains: "Prison's a lot like sittin' on the john. A good book can help pass the time." Hollywood, take note: We need more movies in which Parker Posey kicks a tombstone, that are directed with no-nonsense purpose by gents named Artie Mandelberg, and that gift us with brine-loving heroes who want simply to "Open up a place. Make pickles. Take it as it comes."

 
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