With a solid story, funny script, encouraging message, and great voice cast, this animated wrestling comedy is a knock out. Co-producer WWE Studios is no stranger to promoting the World Wrestling Entertainment brand -- they've been involved in everything from Christmas romcoms and faith-based films to the more expected actioners -- but most of it has been down for the count. And their previous animation plays have been to co-opt legacy cartoon brands like Scooby-Doo! or The Jetsons. With Rumble, WWE Studios steps out of the shadow of these animated icons and comes into their own. It's fascinating, because the studio's story is analogous to Winnie and Steve's: They've grown up watching from the wings, being taught by those in the trenches -- and in this first solo effort, they put their own unique stamp on a comedy adventure for kids that really works. It probably helps that they collaborated with more experienced partners, including Paramount Animation, Walden Media, and Reel FX. Screenwriter Matt Lieberman is a proven entity, too, having written recent crowd pleasers Scoob!, The Christmas Chronicles, and Free Guy. And while Hamish Grieve is a first-time director, he's been in a creative leadership role at DreamWorks Animation, so it wasn't exactly a gamble. But whether WWE came in at the end or the beginning, it's likely that it's the studio that will end up being the most associated with this wrestling movie, since it features several of their stars.
Clever storytelling choices allow the folks behind WWE to have some fun at their own expense while leaving breadcrumbs for families to have a conversation about the nature of WWE style pro-wrestling. For starters, it addresses that some matches have predetermined outcomes. Tentacular is a WWE-style "heel" who self-aggrandizes by talking about himself in the third person. And the plot winks at the fancy footwork that goes into pro wrestling matches by having Steve implement actual dance choreography. Plus, when your wrestlers are giant monsters, it's certainly a lot less worrisome (and imitable) when one chokeslams another. Of course, the WWE makes movies as a brand extension, a promotional vehicle for their athletes (WWE stars Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch, and Joe Anoa'i voice characters), and to recruit new fans -- so, in a sense, it's a bit of a commercial. But the expert filmmaking team helps guide the end results to create a feel-good sports film, proving that the WWE is finally ready (yes, to Rumble).