Typically, I don’t write reviews of documentaries. It’s almost impossible to talk about a documentary without spoiling the narrative—most of the fun comes from actually watching the story unfold. But this documentary is special and I feel the need to share it with others because it strikes a very real, genuine chord. Chances are that you know someone who has been in a similar situation.

As a kid, I grew up loving wrestling. I remember going to a friend’s house (pretty much every month over a span of years) to watch pay-per-views. Toggling back and forth watching Monday night war between WCW’s Nitro and WWF’s Raw. My childhood in the 90s was the heyday of professional wrestling. For whatever reason, it was inescapable. At this point, I don’t even know how long it has been since I’ve watched even a second of wrestling, but it was a part of my childhood so a certain part of that will always stick with me. On the base level, it’s about acting—creating and portraying a character and making people believe it. I believed Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

He creeped me out to the core. Now he creeps me out for a different reason.

Old Jake

In his prime, Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a god among men. From watching this documentary, it’s hard to tell how much of that was a character. You don’t know where the real Aurelian Smith ends and where Jake “The Snake” Roberts begins. This man survived horrific abuse as a child, but he still can’t outrun those memories. His past has shaped his life, but that doesn’t have to continue.

Without any hyperbole, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is one of the best documentaries I have ever watched. And I just did a Top 30 Streaming 5-Star Documentaries list. This movie absolutely belongs on that list. But don’t just take my word for it. You can watch this documentary right now streaming on Netflix. I implore you to take an hour and a half out of your day to watch this movie.

The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is about so much more than wrestling. This is a movie about addiction and the overwhelming difficulty of trying to overcome those demons. During this last week, I have watched this documentary three times. I never re-watch documentaries, but this was worth it. The emotions hit me each and every time. I don’t feel like I can oversell this movie.

DDP and Jake

While it probably ascends to a higher plane for anyone who was a fan of wrestling, the story of battling alcoholism and drug addiction is the heart of this documentary. Basically, this is an incredible, feature-length version of an episode of Intervention. After starting with fall the of Jake “The Snake” and his descent into self-destruction (then at 300 pounds), this movie starts to give you some hope.

Long-time friend and former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page has taken Jake in to try to help him literally reshape himself. Director Steve Yu never made a movie before this so I don’t know if he just struck gold with the subject or if he’s a reason for the success. But it is a credit to the filmmaker that this movie didn’t become a long infomercial for DDP Yoga. Diamond Dallas Page’s fitness program does a phenomenal job of selling itself with the results it creates. The movie stays focused on the aspect of addiction and its impact. On film, I have never witnessed a more raw look into how that can rip apart a family and ruin the lives of several people. It is an ongoing battle with so many highs and lows.

Old Scott

I was ruined when Dallas and Jake make the phone call to Scott Hall. It is fucking heartbreaking to see him. Halfway into the movie, it emphatically drives the point home that coming clean and overcoming addiction isn’t like you can just flip a switch and start fresh. It is a fight that never stops.

The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is a story about Jake but it also transcends him by using his life as a prism from which to view addiction. It is equally pessimistic and optimistic. It is riveting, fascinating, and unavoidably tragic to watch. However, you can’t help but walk away feeling hopeful and positive.

You might not expect where it starts and and where it ends.

But if you are a human being, you will enjoy the journey.

If you don’t, you know what you deserve.


5 out of 5 stars


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