Golden Arm’s Mary Holland explains the wonder of women’s arm wrestling

Mary Holland (on the right) stars as Melanie, a baker who gets pulled into the world of ladies arm wrestling.

Christopher Messina

This story is part of I’m So Obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

If there’s one movie I’m obsessed with recently, it’s the women’s arm wrestling comedy Golden Arm. It follows a baker named Melanie, played by Mary Holland (Happiest Season), as she begrudgingly enters the world of competitive arm wrestling. The film is equal parts sweet, deadly serious and funny. It has everything from arm wrestling training montages and ridiculous flashbacks to an amazing supporting cast that includes Ron Funches, Dot-Marie Jones and Betsy Sodaro, who’s brilliant as Melanie’s best friend. Golden Arm is about badass women and their friendships and is told against the unique backdrop of underground arm wrestling.

Golden Arm marks the feature film debut for director Maureen Bharoocha, who expertly builds one of the more original movie worlds I’ve seen in a while. Holland and Bharoocha were my guests on CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast, and they explained how one of the film’s writers drew on her experiences from an actual underground arm wrestling group for Golden Arm.

“As soon as I heard the idea, my mind immediately went to Fight Club and Slap Shot and Wayne’s World for that kind of buddy road trip movie,”  said Bharoocha. “Part of the fun is taking something that is kind of ridiculous, but in this world it is life and death. This is everything to them. These tournaments mean everything. It’s about winning, and it’s about discovering who you are. So these people take it seriously. The comedy comes from the characters and their interactions and never from the situation they’re in.”

Holland prepared for the film in part by watching videos of a women’s arm wrestling group in LA. She says each arm wrestler adopts an alter ego and persona, and that the vibe is fun, celebratory and vibrant, which is something she hopes people will find with Golden Arm.

You can listen to my entire conversation with Holland and Bharoocha in the player above or on Apple Podcasts. Aside from arm wrestling, they discuss the long-term appeal of the show Survivor, the importance of voicing a Star Wars robot and why rich kids wear dumpy clothes.

You can watch Golden Arm in theaters and on digital starting April 30. You can subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.

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