This One Just Kills Me


I just watched Murderball. Have you had the pleasure?

It’s a documentary that came out in ’05 that condenses into 85 minutes the action of two and a half years of Quad Rugby. I was like a lot of people and I wanted to see it but wasn’t excited about it because I felt like I had to be in a certain mood, it was a documentary after all and sure to be back breakingly heavy what with all the people in wheelchairs and everything.

Yeah, I’m an idiot.

First off, some cautionary notes. It’s a sports movie so please clean your DVD thoroughly before inserting it into your player. You wouldn’t want the disc to start skipping and eventually stop entirely in the middle of the climactic match forcing you to clean it and replace it and try it in another player and eventually mis-navigate the scene selection thereby spoiling the ending for yourself. Trust me, you wouldn’t. That would be sad and you’d use bad words in a short speech about Netflix addressed to your windex bottle. It’s easier to clean the DVD first. Also don’t be put off by the use of murder in the title. The movie isn’t nearly as brutal as I was led to believe so if you generally steer clear of violence or gore this is still something you can find pleasure in. Be prepared to learn a little something. I learned a lot.

While I’m free with the disclaimers let’s get this out of the way, too. I am in love with Mark Zupan, the spokesperson for US Quad Rugby. I’m also a little in love with his girlfriend. From what I’ve seen of him in the movie that might be OK with him. Maybe even a little better than OK. (Mark, call me!)

Anyway, on to the actual film. It’s a well made movie with a good mix of personal stories and the overall story of the sport. This violent “collision sport” was created in Canada. Aren’t the Canadians supposed to be famous for being super polite? Guess they have some repressed aggression to work with, eh? Murderball is everything I love in a sport with speed and violence and high emotion. The players on the ’04 ParOlympic team are everything I love in sports figures with their bawdy humor and fierce dedication and complete insanity. I like my boys a little whackadoo, that’s why I always go for the goalie or the drummer, and these guys fit the bill. They are inspiring not because they’re in wheelchairs but because they are crazy-dedicated to this sport and to this movie.

In an Olympic year we have all been listening to some painful athlete interviews. Don’t lie to me, I know you’ve cringed at least once a night. There is none of that in Murderball because the film makers have chosen great sportsmen who also happen to be intelligent, articulate and remarkably sensitive given that their greatest pleasure in life is to ram someone else with a wheelchair until he falls over and can’t get up. They don’t want your sympathy and, honestly, they don’t need or deserve it. The story is moving, to be sure, but the only thing that made me weep was a scene where they were conducting rugby clinics with disabled Iraq War vets and the vet the film makers chose to concentrate on was a timid young man who, I swear to you, doesn’t look more than 17.

If you like sports this movie is for you. If you like those Olympic human interest stories this movie is for you. If you like hot guys this is for you. If you have an extra ticket to a quad rugby game or Mark Zupan’s phone number please e-mail me.

So, the plan here at PPtP is to conduct “lazy person’s book club”, right? They have discussion questions in book clubs, I think. So let me get the discussion moving with a couple of questions. I’ve kept my review spoiler free, I can’t promise the same about my questions so if you don’t want the movie spoiled for you this is the sentence you should end with.

Are you, in general, a lover of documentaries?

Did the discussion of quad sex make you uncomfortable?

The players in this movie have a highly developed drive both in life and in their sport. After getting to know them do you think that’s something they’ve always had or something that grew in them after their injury?

I’ll post my answers in comments after you all get started, deal?


5 Responses to “This One Just Kills Me”

  1. Misti Says:

    I have been sucking at Netflix lately. I’ll order, receive, then have not one bit of desire to watch what I’ve ordered. Gah. So this will help. I’ll use this to kick off my new netflix relationship.

    I’m interested in documentaries. I was just talking about one, old one, with a client. I”m on tap to see Richard III at our local Shakespeare in the park on Friday and was talking about Looking For Richard, Al Pacino. I loved it. With documentaries, I feel like I”m behind the scenes, getting to see places the regular movie watching people don’t get to see.

    plus, I’m a giant dork.

    Excited about Murderball. And this place.

  2. saintseester Says:

    I think I will have to put that on my list. I love the question about quad sex. When I was in high school, we were required to perform so many hours of community service. My friend and I did a couple of stints at the rehab clinic. We met two teenage boys who had been paralyzed (one of them on prom night). I tell you what, they didn’t stop thinking and talking about sex at all. The whole experience was very eye-opening. I was very uncomfortable with these kids at first, but I am so very glad I did it.

    As for the lazy man’s book club aspect, we could perhaps choose a flick of the month (or quarter, ha ha) that everyone could watch and discuss as well as all of our individual contributions.

  3. wordlily Says:

    I usually like documentaries once I start them, but I’m pretty selective in choice of documentaries. They are also prone to sitting on the shelf next to the DVD player for a while, while I find the incentive to watch them.

    But yikes! That title is crazy.

  4. Kizz Says:

    OH! I forgot to tell you guys, if you’ve ever seen the series Friday Night Lights you have seen a trailer for Murderball. The creator, Peter Berg, pretty much stole whole big chunks of the doc in order to create the storyline for his quad character and I think he cast certain actors, including the one who plays Jason Street, based on particular quad rugby players.

    You are a lover of the Pacino, my friend, and he rocks the house in that doc!

    Seester, one of the things that pissed me off about the movie is that they end the sex discussion with one guy saying, “Pretty much every quad guy loves to eat pussy.” and they practically cut him off mid sentence, they can’t move along fast enough. TELL ME MORE!

    Wordlily, I always feel like I SHOULD watch documentaries but it’s so difficult and complicated to know what would be good and I always feel sort of inferior. Of the blockbusting ones in the past few years I’ve only seen this one and Super Size Me.

    OK, on to my answers:

    1. No. Like I said above I sort of feel like an idiot and often times they make me feel hopeless. I’m not a big reader of nonfiction, either. I prefer to get all my good lessons from fiction, which I know makes me seem even less adult than I already do but I’m trying to be honest.

    2. Absolutely yes! And totally not. I was pissed that the discussion was so short when it was obviously such a huge part of the recovery of these guys. I mean, a nurse is so excited by your erection (because it shows responsiveness below the waist that they didn’t know you had) that she runs out to get your mom and show her?! The first thing you learn in rehab is to jerk off? This is big stuff. I think what made me uncomfortable was the thought of how awkward, or new, or trial and error the sex acts might be but I wanted to know more. I mean sex has a high level of awkward anyway so is this more awkward or just different awkward, GIVE ME MORE EXAMPLES! I want to know if I could manage it. So I was elated at the information we got but I wanted more, much more. I also wanted to immediately call Nina Hartley and ask her to help me re-shoot (heh) the horrifyingly stilted how-to quad sex instruction video. Yikes!

    3. There were 2 guys who were injured before they hit adolescence. The rest of them became quads after the age of 16. It felt as though the guys who were injured at a younger age drew most of their drive from the injury. Obviously they had to have it in there to work with but I think if they’d remained able bodied they might not have had this relentlessness to them. As for the other guys, they were all like this before. Zupan’s friends will be the first to tell you that he’s an ass and has been all his life. If anything, being a quad/quad rugby player has given him an outlet for all the rest of that so he can be more compassionate in the rest of his life. I think if these guys hadn’t had the drive already installed they wouldn’t be where they are in the quad rugby world.

  5. Darci Says:

    The main guy in this doc was on Miami Ink getting a tattoo. Very interesting character. I have rented and returned this film 3 times but have not actually viewed the darn thing.

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