Friday, October 18, 2013

The Chaperone - 2011

"The Chaperone" - 2011
Dir. by Stephen Herek - 1 hr. 43 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

So look, I'm partially to blame for this.  I keep subjecting myself to these WWE movies, knowing full well that they're likely to be completely awful.  Usually, I'm pleasantly surprised by the fact that they aren't 100% awful, but "The Chaperone" is the first one where I actually question what the point of making the film is in the first place.  I get that they're generally low-budget filler, and that no one's aiming too high for the most part.  I get that.   I get that they're trying to cruise on the appeal of whoever the star is, and that wrestling fans might want to see a movie starring that guy.  But "The Chaperone" is the kind of movie that fails to deliver anything approaching what it promises, from any angle.

Ray-Ray Brownstone (Paul "Triple H" Levesque) emerges from prison a changed man, thanks to the platitudes of radio show host Dr. Marjorie (Lucy Webb).  Up first on the agenda is patching things up with the wife, Lynne (Annabeth Gish), and daughter, Sally (Ariel Winter), that he left behind, right after he convinces people to stop calling him Ray-Ray, and start just calling him Ray.  But they're bitter, and his ex-colleagues are pressuring him to take up his old profession, being the best damned getaway driver anyone in Louisiana has ever seen.  Due to a mix-up, Ray ends up chaperoning a trip to New Orleans that his angry daughter is on, and his crime buddies are after him, too, with evil intentions.  Will Ray reconcile with his family and escape the clutches of his nefarious colleagues, or will evil prevail and will Ray duplicate back into Ray-Ray?  Only one hour and forty-three minutes stands between you finding out the answer to that question.

Lookit, I don't aim to just pointlessly shit all over movies.  That's not really my "thing" here.  I try to give praise where praise is due, and I focus a lot on the mechanics of storytelling because that's the main thing that I pay attention to when watching movies.  I'd love to faintly praise this film and tell you that it was competently done, even if not all that exciting or surprising.  But I can't even do that, because there was a soundtrack mistake that was so amateurish and badly timed that it damns the rest of the film.  To be clear, I'm talking about a street sequence in New Orleans, where Ray is trying to return a duffle bag to two baddies, and the tense background music starts, but it starts with a drum hit that sounds like gunfire.  No one in the film is shooting guns at this point, but the drum hit is so confusing that it took me a few seconds to figure out that I hadn't missed some random street shooting, that no one had been shot, and that the reason no one on-screen was reacting to the apparent gunfire was because it was just the drums in the soundtrack.  In a movie where people are routinely pulling guns (even though it's a comedy), it took me completely out of the movie, and left me shaking my head that no one involved with this film had noticed at how it made it look like no one was paying attention at any point during the production and editing of "The Chaperone."  More things that back up my point: the fact that no one's clothes fit well, Levesque's prison beard, and Kevin Corrigan's hair.

But there are more reasons that I feel like no one was paying any attention whatsoever, at any point.  Chief among them is that I can't figure out who this film was supposed to please.  If you're a fan of WWE and of Triple H, are you excited to see Triple H deal with ex-wife bitter beer face and a teenager talking down to him?  Is that the film you want to see Triple H in?  There's hardly any fight scenes at all, and they're pretty perfunctory when they happen.  So there's no satisfaction there.  If you're just a fan of mindless comedies, this isn't funny enough, nor is Triple H a strong enough personality to carry things on that basis, unlike Adam "Edge" Copeland in "Bending the Rules."  If you're a fan of muscly men on a bus full of fourteen year-olds, you're probably a pedophile, and "The Chaperone" isn't going to satisfy on that account, either.  Even in the context of the film, Ray is billed as being a fantastic driver, and the closest we get to see of that is him driving a bus over a curb, and him letting his daughter steer his car in a flashback sequence.  Put plainly, there isn't enough "WWE stuff" to make wrestling fans happy, and the movie simply isn't good enough to warrant attention from non-wrestling fans.  And if there's another way to find interest in "The Chaperone," rest assured that you'll finish this film with the cinematic equivalent of blue balls.

So I don't know why "The Chaperone" exists.  It's filler, but even by WWE Studios standards, it's not particularly good filler.  I was unbelievably disappointed to find out that this film was directed by Stephen Herek, who's responsible for one of my favorite films of all time, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," among other films.  I don't think it's impossible to deliver something mildly entertaining starring Levesque, and with this general concept, but things needed to get a lot weirder, and a lot quicker.  There seems to be no awareness that seeing a big-time professional wrestler get run down by a jilted wife and kid isn't a set-up anyone who would go see that wrestler in a movie wants (and that people who are fans of Triple H might like a couple of fun, awesome movies with him before we get to the "The Tooth Fairy"/"The Pacifier" stage of his screen career), unless it ends in Triple H pedigree-ing the crap out of everyone in sight.  And, although this might be considered a mild spoiler, Triple H does not Pedigree anyone at all.  So what's the point?  I couldn't find one, and I'm not sure anyone involved here could tell you either.

.5 / 5 - TV (HD)

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