The Chaperone (2011)
Her dad did time... now he wants quality time
Next week is a good ole action flick lined up, and last week was a spooky haunting movie so I thought this week we'd go for some family-friendly dumb fun. I can't think of something that really says "dumb fun" like the WWE, so when window-browsing on Netflix put the wrestler known as Triple H in front of a school bus of kids, I thought "well why not?" It's not a new trend that wrestlers throw their gauntlets into the movie ring - when you think of it wrestling is largely a soap opera combined with sports physicality in the first place, and although I don't imagine each being as successful as The Rock, the movies are usually harmless fun at worst. On that note, let's all sit down and be quiet, it's time for The Chaperone.
So the first major thing to address in any of these movies is the acting. It's kind of a big sticker for a lot of movies, and when a person initially thinks of a wrestler they think more of flamboyance than necessarily good acting. A lot of these WWE movies have that stigma as well - you never know if it's gonna be a good acting job or of it's gonna be all action. In this case, the acting isn't terrible for the most part. There's a few characters that are wobbly on the emoting side for one reason or another, but it's generally all delivered good enough for the level of movie you expect when you see WWE slapped front and center on it. It's not great, but it's passable enough in the same way that most comedy action movies are. A lot of the characters are pretty one-note however if that's something that matters to you, and largely it's debatable towards character growth, as the largest extent of it is the daughter character and a few side characters.
All of that sort of ties into the plot and how it's presented. The main character is a reformed criminal, and we come into the story at his release - after all the character change has already happened. This ties his character more with the fish-out-of-water comedy line we've seen plenty of times where they try to get back in touch with their kid and/or spouse after being absent for so long. That same dynamic exists where kid and family is resistant to it, and things keep going wrong through mistakes or coincidence to provide further comedy and some form of tension to get in the way. It's not new, but it's not terribly done either for the most part. It even manages to work the kid into a more active role in the story as we draw towards the end when we have a slight Goonies moment or two with heroic kids going to save the day.
Oddly enough, you'd expect a lot more action in this movie than what you really get. The fight scenes can be counted on one hand, and largely the comedy takes more of a focus. Even during moments such as a bank heist, the movie still finds the time to laugh at something - even if the joke doesn't particularly land it's punches with the viewer. What action is there is put together well, as you'd expect from a company whose primary product is wrestling. In that sense, I guess things are a bit more kid friendly than one might think at first glance.
Of course, and we go through this line every time - humor is subjective, so one man's trash is another's treasure. There's moments during the movie where you could see a person maybe getting a little choked up from it being touching, or laughing from a joke being funny - but largely those effects eluded me despite seeing those moments. The lip implants joke fell somewhat flat outside of one aspect of it that had a slight guffaw, but it just kind of goes to show you that even in things you don't find funny that sometimes there's a nugget of enjoyment. The jokes largely are harmless, and sometimes the humor comes down more to interactions of people - like the passive aggressive verbal battle between the father and daughter during the dinosaur scene. It's generally enjoyable despite not making me laugh, but mileage will vary.
Effects department doesn't get a whole lot to really show off here. There's very limited amounts of blood - largely just a bloody nose - and no real large gun fights or anything of that sort. Costumes, being set in the modern day, are all just normal to the eye - despite the fact that even that is technically what they do. Even the settings are largely nothing outside the normal - a storehouse housing a bunch of what might be floats is really the stand out of locations, and the amount of time there is sparse and also darkly lit. That said, costumes are used well to indicate whose who easily enough - down to the specific hat one of the cops wears.
Audio wise things are balanced well and generally on point. No real music stood out to me although there's a few actor-"sung" lines, granted at no point does it ever turn into a musical. Overall, things do their job but don't stand out too much - which is a good place to be when it comes to audio in a movie. The main focus is much like any other family comedy flick - they have the underlying moral centers to try and teach people things like the importance of family or being truthful while still entertaining the wider audience. Maybe it doesn't handle them the best - but comedy types rarely do, considering they play a lot of things up for laughs - but they are there in the same fashion you would expect.
In the end, The Chaperone turns out to be a pretty complacent customer. It never gets too rowdy with action scenes, despite being a product of the WWE - but also still carries a lot of what you'd expect from them. The plot is pretty simple and basic, a lot of the characters are just stereotypes or incompetent, but the entire point is to sit back and have an enjoyable time and the movie does that relatively well. Jokes will be hit or miss, but the mood throughout is normally good regardless.