No one here questions the credentials of Paul Levesque (a/k/a Triple H) as a sports entertainer. He’s among the most successful performers of his generation. Levesque (a/k/a Hunter Hearst Helmsley) has a tremendous physique, is a good worker inside the ring, is able to present even the more outlandish storylines in a convincing manner, gives solid interviews, and, health permitting, will almost certainly retire with more world title reigns than any of the athletic thespians who have graced the squared circle.
But the question of whether Levesque (a/k/a the Game) is a good performer as a main event pro wrestler is a much different one than whether he can perform well as a starring actor by feature film standards.
That, however, is a question that we’re about to have answered.
Levesque (a/k/a the King of Kings) has been absent from WWE programming for some time due to injuries. I was understandably surprised to see him show up on my television screen this past Monday night. Even more surprising, Levesque (a/k/a the Cerebral Assassin) appeared not live in some wrestling arena, but, rather, in a trailer for a soon-to-be-released film entitled “The Chaperone.”
This was my stream-of-consciousness reaction to the amazing footage:
0:00-0:05: “This movie is PG-13? I wonder if it’s a Stone Cold Steve Austin-style action flick.”
0:07-0:10: “Ok, he’s in prison. Maybe something along the lines of The Longest Yar – OH MY LORD, WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THAT BEARD? Eat your heart out, Brett Keisel.”
0:10-0:12: “Even though he’s done hard time, we know Triple H is a good guy because he’s got an easygoing rapport with the kindly black prison guard. Trip transcends both racial and guard/inmate divides! Now that’s what I call good behavior!”
0:13-0:16: “It’s that actress from Beautiful Girls. Annabeth Gish. I cannot believe I remembered her name. More like Annabeth DISH, amirite? And thank goodness that beard is gone.”
0:17-0:20: “Oh, man – this is a semi-serious drama? I feel the WWE PR machine fumbling clumsily in the dark in an attempt to grasp and subsequently tug one of my heartstrings, but to no avail. This is an unfortunate turn of events. Actual acting may be required for this role.”
0:20: “He’s a father. Got it.”
0:23: “Hmmm . . . I know we’re only 23 seconds into the trailer, but I’ve got a feeling his search for redemption is gonna be a fruitful one!!!”
0:24-0:26: “I at least deserve a second chance to know the daughter I fathered just before I did over a decade of hard time in a federal penitentiary! I mean, that makes sense, right?”
0:27-0:28: “She didn’t take the bait on the rose or the teddy bear? Jeez, what does she want?!?”
0:29-0:32: “I haven’t seen Triple H this guilt-ridden since he nearly killed a man with a sledgehammer that one time. I mean that one hundred times. And, just kidding, he was fine with it.”
0:33-0:34: “There’s the obligatory old photo that Triple H’s character stared at every night to get himself through his prison sentence. I’m guessing it’s folded like that so he didn’t have to look at his daughter while he . . . well, anyway, prison is lonely. Also, nice job by the art department to photoshop Gish’s yearbook headshot so that she’s looking the wrong way in the poorly-fabricated family photo.”
0:35-0:37: “Ugh. Lisa Simpson. Always jarring to see/hear Yeardley Smith.”
0:40-41: “‘Try acting like a parent!’ – the director of this movie, to Triple H, approximately 50,000 times during shooting.”
0:43-0:49: “Wait, what’s happening now? Is this a different trailer?”
0:50-1:02: “We just learned that Triple H’s character spent his free time in prison reading two things. One, books on dinosaurs. Two, issues of People magazine from 2002.”
1:06-1:12: “Just when he thinks he’s blah – they blah him blah blah.”
1:13-1:28: “Looks like we’re in for some hilarious and exciting chase scenes. Also, I’m now completely confused as to what genre of movie this is.”
1:34-1:36: “Fantastic. Now we know what crime he committed. Bank robber. Useful info.”
1:38-1:44: “So, they kidnaped Triple H and his daughter. Just a hunch, but I’m guessing they’ll try to use her to leverage him into helping them with another lucrative crime.”
1:49: “Oof. ‘This winter.’ Two very non-specific words you never want to see in a trailer. That’s equivalent to saying, ‘Realistically, we know that we couldn’t compete with films released on actual holidays,’ or ‘You’ll be seeing commercials for the blu-ray of this movie during Raw six weeks from now.’ See also: The Green Hornet.”
1:50-2:14: “I’m totally lost. Not only are they obviously showing things out-of-sequence, but the film is now a Home Alone-type kids vs. evil adults slapstick comedy. I give up.”
2:15-2:20: “What is the target audience for this movie? Seriously. Almost none of the girls who identify with the daughter will even know who Triple H is. On the other hand, most WWE fans wouldn’t care about this kind of story. I guess that’s why they turned it into . . . well, whatever this is.”
2:23-2:26: “And we end on a high note with another zingeroo from Trip. If that’s the joke they show in the trailer, that doesn’t bode well for the jokes in the 88 minutes of movie we’re not seeing here.”
2:28-2:29: “Jim Johnston, you can call yourself ‘James Alan Johnston’ all you want, but we all know you’re the same guy who composed the Val Venis theme. Also, I would have lost a LOT of money betting that this film had more than one writer. Nope. Just one. I lose.”
In all seriousness, I’ve seen Triple H perform for long enough to know that he’ll be competent in this. But I’m equally confident that the script will be all over the place in terms of tone, and, despite the PG-13 rating, most of the people who will enjoy this film are south of thirteen. And that’s fine. But if they had taken out the fanny pack joke (and probably
some a lot of unseen bathroom humor), they could have gotten this thing down to a PG, kept in the cartoonish violence, and done more business with essentially the same movie.
My guess is that Triple H will wind up somewhere below the Duane Johnson / Roddy Piper tier of acting ability, but above the Steve Austin tier, and far above, well, this.
Did I miss the “Straight to Video” portion of the preview or will they just add that after the results come back from test audiences?
The trailer for the latest Nicholas Cage movie (“Drive Angry” in theaters February 25) appearing in the Ads by Google section of the post did nothing to increase the movie prestige of this page either.
I think it will play out like Cena’s and Big Show’s last movies did: Heavy promotion on all WWE programming, followed by IMMEDIATE release to blu-ray. That last Cena flick (where he was a guy who got sent to prison and was looking for redemption with his family – sound familiar?) literally went from being advertised as in theaters one week, to being promoted as a DVD release the next. The transition was instantaneous.