Today I had a chance to interview The Rock, and while preparing I looked over his IMDB listing and it dawned on me that this guy has been in a lot of crummy movies. The Scorpion King, Be Cool, Doom – not one of these movies are particularly defensible or worth a second look.
There’s one movie in The Rock’s filmography that’s pretty good: The Rundown, directed by Peter Berg. It also has the distinction of being one of the few non-American Pie Seann William Scott movies I can fucking stand. That’s a movie that’s a ton of fun, has some good action, and seems to understand how to best use The Rock’s natural charisma.
And that’s the thing he has going for him the most on screen – tons of charisma. Even in the shittiest of his films (say, the abysmal Walking Tall remake), The Rock is good. He’s just good in everything. He’s definitely leaps and bounds beyond other athletes trying to make it in Hollywood, both in terms of talent and smarts. The guy can act reasonably well, and he’s bright enough to take roles that stretch him, whether it be the gay guy in Be Cool or the probation officer/football coach in the upcoming Gridiron Gang. He’s not just doing Stone Cold or Suburban Commando – the guy is trying to make real movies with talented filmmakers.
And yet they keep turning out as poop. Gridiron Gang is just another in a long series of dire movies starring The Rock in which The Rock is really good while everything else is really bad. It’s frustrating to watch the guy filling the screen with presence and tackling some emotional scenes in the midst of the worst kind of maudlin dreck. You’re rooting for the man, but not the film.
The future doesn’t look bright for him, either. His next movie is called The Game Plan, and it’s about an NFL player on his way to the Super Bowl who discovers he has a 7 year old daughter. It’s a Disney comedy, and it really sounds like the kind of movie Vin Diesel makes with a duck to convince us all he might be willing to father children.
What’s the problem? Is it the system not offering The Rock the breaks? I don’t think so – Be Cool and Southland Tales are very much off-kilter movies for him to be in. It isn’t like the guy is only getting roles in B-movies where he punches people. Is it his choices? Again, I don’t think so – I think Be Cool and Southland Tales probably looked good on paper. We all know that Be Cool was a big turd, and Southland Tales certainly has that scent wafting off it post-Cannes, but they didn’t look like rotten choices in advance. (Well, except for the aforementioned The Game Plan – hey, maybe his choices are somewhat to blame, at least in his starring roles)
Could it just be the Movie Gods are not smiling upon The Rock? Could he just be a nexus of bad movie luck? I feel like The Rock is just one really good movie away from hitting the next level. The guy needs his own Die Hard, his own Terminator, his own franchise fine tuned to his personal charisma. While I think that The Rock is a better actor than someone like, just for instance, Orlando Bloom, I also think that the key to his future is a character built around his personality, the kind of movie where you don’t even bother talking about the character’s name, you just call him The Rock. It needs to be a fun movie, he needs to have a smaller sidekick/foil, and he needs to beat the everloving shit out of a number of guys in a number of interesting settings. It should also have Rosario Dawson being hot. Sadly, the movie I am describing is The Rundown.
I turn to you, Hollywood, and I beseech you – please, find a movie for The Rock. A movie that will be good, and fun, and make a lot of money. Please don’t let this natural talent continue to be wasted in terrible film after terrible film while even Paul Walker gets a chance to shine in a great film like Running Scared… which, granted no one has seen, so I guess that’s like Walker’s version of The Rundown. Jeez, am I going to end up writing a plea for Paul Walker’s career one day too?