What’s up with the WWE lately? Whether going with a kinder, gentler spin on wrestling as sports violence, however staged, or looking to preemptively expand their appeal to the next spectator sport generation of kids, WWE seems to be moving big time into children’s movies.
Just last year, WWE made a grab for the kid movie market with the role model makeovers of John Cena in Legendary and Knucklehead’s Paul Wight. And now with the new year barely begun, there’s Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque baring a lot more than knuckles in The Chaperone.
Levesque aka The Cerebral Assassin in the ring, is Ray Bradstone, a Big Easy ex-con who landed in prison when resentfully but stoically taking the rap for his bank robber buddies. Who happened to have abandoned him during a heist while he was at the getaway wheel, as they thoughtlessly took off in a Plan B different direction.
While languishing for seven years behind bars, Bradstone bides his time by dialing up a radio shrink on-air to make sense of the mess his life is in, and perhaps dabble in a little self-styled Ray-habilitation too. And when venturing into the outside world upon his release, Bradstone is determined to set his sights on getting a job and getting back in touch with his long estranged ex-wife Lynne (Annabeth Gish) and now teen daughter Sally (Ariel Winter)
But running interference right outside the prison gates, is Larue (Kevin Corrigan), his old partner in crime who wants Bradstone back in the bank robbing business as the best getaway driver around, and is not into taking no for an answer. Bradstone for his part, wants none of it. But when his wife and daughter reject him and he can’t get a job because of his criminal record, on top of which his apartment building burns down, Bradstone reluctantly opts to join up again with Larue and his gang.
Levesque keeps the combo solemn and silly plot points rolling nicely along, and displays a surprisingly tender side that meshes smoothly with his more ferocious tendencies. But when a detour involving a class trip to downtown New Orleans, bratty kids and accidental bank loot on board, and Bradstone at the wheel with cops in pursuit, this itinerary isn’t going much of anywhere that we haven’t traveled before.
Directed by Stephen Herek (The Mighty Ducks, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), The Chaperone with its flimsy and substantially dumbed down proceedings aside, is not quite always as mindless as it may seem. Levesque, when inducted on an emergency basis as a local museum of natural history tour guide, does enlighten that the DNA of dinosaurs still lives on in their present day descendants, the birds.
Samuel Goldwyn Films Rated PG-13 2 1/2 stars