Beyond the Mat Reviews

Top Critic
Lisa Alspector
Chicago Reader
March 23, 2007
Documentaries are almost always more interesting if the filmmakers fess up about their relationship to the subject, as unabashed pro-wrestling fan Barry Blaustein does in this naively made, compelling homage to the sport.
Top Critic
Robert Koehler
Variety
March 23, 2007
A gently and genuinely observed film whose subject is a garish, artificial display of mayhem.
Top Critic

Time Out
June 24, 2006
We tour the All-Pro Wrestling School in California and Philadelphia's fearsome Extreme Championships, but it's the studies Blaustein makes of several wrestlers that root the film.
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
March 19, 2002
Entertaining and twisted.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jan Stuart
Newsday
January 1, 2000
Blaustein's documentary about championship wrestling is as voyeuristic, artificial and perversely compelling as the sport itself.
Top Critic
Elvis Mitchell
New York Times
January 1, 2000
Beyond the Mat wants to blend thrills and pathos, getting at the many sides of what is, as Mr. Blau stein describes it, a carny act. The problem is that he doesn't articulate any of his own thoughts beyond a few slight asides.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Peter Stack
San Francisco Chronicle
January 1, 2000
Beyond the Mat is crazily entertaining.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
January 1, 2000
Blaustein suggests wrestling's appeal -- as a kind of primal spectacle closer to parades and pageants than any accepted form of sport -- without wondering at all why he finds it compelling.
Top Critic
Steven Rosen
Denver Post
January 1, 2000
Beyond the Mat transcends its subject, pro wrestling, to become a wrenching, sobering, emotional glimpse at the lives of some men trapped by the aging process.
Top Critic
Robert Horton
Film.com
January 1, 2000
The rampant hucksterism of big-time wrestling is in a long American tradition, and Beyond the Mat is a very smart first step in opening the subject up to clearer view.
Top Critic
Jay Carr
Boston Globe
January 1, 2000
Beyond the Mat does what the wrestling game, with its manufactured personas, doesn't. It stays with the wrestlers until we start seeing them as people.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
January 1, 2000
Friendly, soft-hitting documentary.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Ken Hoffman
Houston Chronicle
January 1, 2000
Beyond the Mat takes all the fun out of the insanity that is wrestling.
Top Critic
John Hartl
Seattle Times
January 1, 2000
Funny and touching documentary.
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
January 1, 2000
It has a hypnotic quality.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
January 1, 2000
The wrestlers are cannier than Blaustein probably gives them credit for; they seem to be offering up their backstage lives to him in ways that mimic the soppiest of melodramas, and he falls for it.
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
January 1, 2000
It's the most entertaining look at its world since Pumping Iron took on body-building.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Tom Maurstad
Dallas Morning News
January 1, 2000
So tired and dated.
Top Critic
Bob Longino
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
January 1, 2000
It grabs professional wrestling by the throat and rarely lets go.