The Chaperone: Film Review
This comedy, directed by Stephen Herek, is unlikely to do much to advance the World Wrestling Entertainment’s film franchise.
NEW YORK — If World Wrestling Entertainment is to be believed, all of their supposedly fierce combatants are really cuddly pussycats at heart. Clearly aping to emulate The Rock’s success with family comedies, they have embarked on an aggressive program of innocuous, kid-friendly movies showcasing their biggest stars. The Chaperone, starring the massively muscled Paul “Triple H” Levesque, is the latest in a series that has included the instantly forgettable Legendary and Knucklehead.
Although thankfully devoid of the juvenile humor that permeated Knucklehead, this effort is unlikely to do much to advance the WWE’s film franchise.
In this comedy directed by Stephen Herek (who’s seen better days with Mr. Holland’s Opus and even Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), the burly wrestling star plays Ray Bradstone, newly released from prison after a seven-year stint for his part as the getaway driver in an armed robbery.
All Ray wants to do his reconnect with his estranged ex-wife (Annabeth Gish) and teenage daughter Sally (Ariel Winter of TV’s Modern Family), but neither want anything to do with him. Meanwhile, his former partner in crime (Kevin Corrigan) is desperate to get him back behind the wheel for a planned heist.
When Ray discovers that being an ex-con doesn’t exactly lead to job opportunities, he reluctantly agrees to sign up with his old gang. But he loses his nerve halfway through the robbery and impulsively signs on as the chaperone for Sally and her schoolmates on a field trip to a natural history museum, with the vengeful crooks following in pursuit of their loot. Chaos naturally ensues with Sally and the other kids eventually having to rescue Ray from the bad guys’ clutches in Home Alone fashion.
S.J. Roth’s screenplay doesn’t miss a predictable beat in its by-the-numbers depiction of the gentle hearted Ray’s desperate efforts to win back his hostile daughter’s affections. The supporting players, who besides the always reliable Corrigan include Enrico Colantoni and Simpsons voice star Yeardley Smith, are largely wasted in their stock roles. Levesque, soon to be seen in an action movie, Inside Out, that is probably more suited to his talents, is a reasonably engaging and likeable screen presence. But this is not a vehicle likely to propel him to the Dwayne Johnson/Arnold Schwarzenegger pantheon.
The film does benefit from its extensive use of scenic New Orleans locations, which will, one an only hope, serve the purpose of boosting post-Katrina tourism.
Opens: Friday, Feb. 18 (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Production: WWE Studios
Cast: Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Ariel Winter, Kevin Corrigan, Jose Yuniga, Yeardley Smith, Kevin Rankin, Enrico Colantoni
Director: Stephen Herek
Screenwriter: S. J. Roth
Producer: Mike Pavone
Executive producer: David Calloway
Director of photography: Kenneth Zunder
Editor: Michael Aller
Production designer: Raymond Pumilia
Costume designer: Claire Breaux
Music: Jim Johnston
Rated PG-13, 103 minutes