by Heath Holland
This past weekend saw the release of Moana, the latest Disney animated movie and also the newest cinematic vehicle to feature Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Oh, I know he dropped the wrestling moniker “The Rock” from his name years ago in pursuit of his acting career outside of the ring, but he’ll always be a pro “rassler” first and foremost to me and a Hollywood movie star second. His frequent returns to Vince McMahon’s WWE and annual Wrestlemania appearances don’t distance himself from his in-ring origin story, nor does the fact that, when you look him up on IMDB, it first says “Known For Monday Night Raw.” At any rate, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch Moana, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it because Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in it. It doesn’t matter if the movie turns out to be any good; I’ll enjoy it because of his involvement.
It’s kind of a weird thing to realize, that you are so smitten with a particular actor that it doesn’t really matter to you if their movies are any good or not. Yet I am with my affection for Mr. Johnson. If I’m being honest, I must confess that I think most of his movies fall a bit short of the mark, but this somehow doesn’t bother me. A quick glance at his Hollywood resume reveals that a staggering amount of his movies fail in terms of craft, story, production, you know, the kinds of things that we as movie fans value and champion above pretty much everything else. I DON’T CARE. This is The Rock Paradox. We have a man who makes multiple movies every year, usually starring in the lead, and usually being the best thing about the production. Mediocre movies, awesome star. The Rock Paradox.
The Scorpion King for being a Conan-lite movie when we needed it the most. I like when he stretches himself, as in Be Cool and Southland Tales. But Dwayne Johnson also makes an awful lot of bad movies. Movies like Doom and Get Smart (I bet your forgot about that one) and the Race to Witch Mountain remake that no one asked for and even fewer people actually watched. He was the title character in Tooth Fairy a mere six years ago and was in the absolutely forgettable Empire State in 2013. I watched that movie and I can’t tell you a single thing about it. Movie fandom gave a collective sigh of apathy over G.I. Joe: Retaliation despite my insistence that it was a lot of fun. He even made an appearance in Jem and the Holograms! For every really good movie that stars Dwayne Johnson, there are at least two bad ones. And I still don’t care.
In a movie marketplace that’s populated by a whole lot of everymen, Dwayne Johnson is a rare creature. He’s someone that I’m not sure we’ve EVER seen the likes of (an imposing tractor trailer of a human being that’s hauling a load of charisma), and that’s what makes watching him so electric and so fun to watch, even in…ESPECIALLY IN…movies that just aren’t all that good. It’s The Rock Paradox.
I can’t wait for 2017 so I can watch San Andreas 2 and Baywatch.