What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this family comedy starring WWE wrestler Paul "Triple H" Levesque features a fair bit of violence (some of it comical) and insulting language, but it also has a worthwhile lesson about redemption. The violence includes guns and sticks being waved around, a couple of characters (including a young girl) being kidnapped and/or tied up, and shots being fired (but no actual body count). For a PG-13 movie, the language is on the mild side, but what's lacking in outright profanity is made up for in taunting comments like "losers," "stupid," "moron," and "idiot." Father-daughter relationships are explored, as is the nature of rehabilitation.
What's the story?
Ray "Ray-Ray" Bradstone (Paul "Triple H" Levesque) has just exited prison after a seven-year stint for driving a bank robbers' getaway car. While serving his time, Ray reformed himself with the assistance of self-help books and a call-in therapy show. His goal after prison is to reconnect with his middle school-aged daughter, Sally (Ariel Winter of Modern Family), and ex-wife, Lynne (Annabeth Gish). Unfortunately for Ray, Sally wants nothing to do with him, and Lynne is happily dating a reliable doctor. Meanwhile, Ray's old pal Larue (Kevin Corrigan) demands that he be the "wheel man" for one more heist, for old times' sake. But Ray has a change of heart and ends up volunteering as THE CHAPERONE for Sally's overnight class trip to New Orleans. Through a series of improbable events, the stolen bag of cash winds up on the school bus, so the police and Larue chase Ray to New Orleans, where Sally is caught between believing her father's innocence and handing him over to the authorities.
Is it any good?
For a wrestler-turned-actor vehicle, The Chaperone isn't all bad. There are plenty of supporting players who do a decent job with their roles, especially Winter as the confused and hurt Sally and Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) as the frazzled junior-high sponsor in charge of the trip. Corrigan can always be counted on to be a funny gangster type, and it's good to see that '80s favorite Gish can still pop up as the occasional mom in a movie, even if she has very little to do here.
Even Levesque himself isn't horrible; he's just trying to fit one of the two acceptable roles for WWE wrestlers -- guys out for revenge (The Marine) or scary dudes who are secretly great at childcare (think Dwayne Johnson). The problem is that the movie's script is a tired amalgamation of one too many family film cliches. There's the kids-save-the-day formula, plus the reformed ex-con times the deadbeat dad trying to redeem himself. And, of course, the Home Alone bits of physical comedy meshed with violence -- like criminals who crash into dirty diaper trucks or who are generally outsmarted by young, techno-savvy kids. Were this an ABC Family TV movie, it would be easy to forgive the trite storyline, but given that families have to pay to see this, it could and should be so much better.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is Ray a positive role model? How does the movie portray him? Do you think his actions made him worthy of Sally's trust?
Ray claims he deserves to be in Sally's life because he's her father. Do you think a father-daughter relationship can change in just a couple of days? Is Ray a good dad?
How does Paul "Triple-H" Levesque compare to other famous wrestlers who've tried to make it on the big screen?