Out on DVD & Blu-ray this week is “The Chaperone”, a straight-to-DVD film from our friends at the World Wrestling Federation.
Where the fuck do I even start.
I have no explanation for why Vince McMahon ventured into film-making. If it’s in an effort to increase exposure for it’s stars (as each film prominently features a member of his roster), he’s doing far more harm than good.
“The Chaperone” stars Hunter Hearst Helmsley, one of the wrestling companies biggest draws. That, obviously, is a ridiculous fake name. On screen, he’s billed as Paul “Triple H” Levesque (a clever combination of his real name and his awful nickname).
To his credit, he is not nearly as terrible as his brutish contemporaries. The last several releases from WWE Studios featured exceptionally poor performances from it’s lead actors (Knucklehead & Legendary come to mind), but as Ray Bradstone in “The Chaperone”, Levesque is passable. That’s not to be mistaken for “good”, because he’s far form it. But, during the 102 minute film, there’s only a few fleeting moments when he’s noticeably out of place in his surroundings.
Luckily for Levesque, that doesn’t matter much. NO ONE except wrestling fans and retarded people (often one and the same) are going to see this film. I considered the title “straight-to-DVD” because it screened in a grand total of TEN theaters for a single weekend. It grossed about $14,000, which should just about pay the catering bill for two days of shooting.
“The Chaperone” is terrible. Literally fucking terrible. It’s historically awful. It’s cinematic proof that a whole does not add up to it’s parts.
The film is directed by Stephen Herek. I know the guy hasn’t done anything relevant in over a decade, but he steered the ship on “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure“, “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead“, and the one good “Mighty Ducks” film. He’s not exactly getting lots of work right now, but he’s certainly capable of making a film.
Starring alongside Levesque are several serious, legitimate acting talents (who are clearly taking the payday). Say what you will about Kevin Corrigan, but he’s one of the busiest supporting actors in Hollywood. He’s in at least 40% of the films I see each week, and he’s prominently featured here. Yeardley Smith (aka Lisa Simpson) and Ariel Winter (Alex from “Modern Family“) are both big-time television actors and recognizable faces who further legitimize the production.
Unfortunately, no matter how talented you are, you can’t take a script written by a 3rd grader and make a respectable film. I don’t know for a fact that a 7-year old wrote this piece of shit, but there really can be no other explanation for how such a horrendous plot was devised.
As the film opens, Ray Bradstone (Levesque) is released from jail. He’s served seven long, hard years in the slammer, and he can’t wait to get home to his family. Unfortunately, he’s haunted by his past.
You see, he’s “the best wheel man in the business”. What the fuck does that even mean?! He was involved in some bank robberies, and he’s the driver. He doesn’t even get out of the car. He just drives. My fucking wife could be “the best wheel (wo)man in the business” if those are the qualifications. He’s so good at driving that his old crew begs him to come back and join them for one last theft. Again, can someone fucking explain to me how you become the best driver at ANYTHING? I would think that role would be the easiest to replace in a bank robbing crew, and hiring a recent ex-con would just bring unneeded attention to your plot.
As we learn early on, he took the fall when a robbery went bad and served hard time because of it. Apparently, the silent alarm was tripped, but the rest of his buddies left him behind. If he’s the fucking driver, HOW DID THEY EVEN KNOW HE WAS INVOLVED? How does the DRIVER get busted, but the guys with masks and guns get away? Why wouldn’t he just drive away casually when he sees the police coming? Or, why not sell out your buddies for a lighter sentence? Nope, not Ray Bradstone, he took the fall and served the time like a man.
First from jail, and then throughout the film, we learn Ray’s true thoughts from his phone calls to “Dr. Margerie”, a radio talk show host. This might be the laziest plot device I’ve ever seen. Whenever he’s feeling conflicted, the film cuts to a phone call with Margerie, where Ray really lays it all out there. Whether it’s 9am, 6pm, or midnight, Dr. Margerie is always on the air broadcasting her boring, unlistenable talk show. How she’s still employed is a mystery to the audience.
Ray finally reunites with his family, and it doesn’t go quite as well as he has hoped. His daughter arrives home just as he does. She says “Are you who I think you are?”, then runs away crying. I’m not a child psychologist, but I think a SIX YEAR OLD would remember what her fucking father looks like. Now aged 13, there’s no way she could be that fucking dense that she didn’t recognize the man that loved her for all of her formative years. This type of nonsense is what makes me want to smash my television screen.
Our buddy Ray does need the money though, and he’s drawn into one last heist. The crew loads up the car and heads for the bank. As usual, everyone rushes in with masks and weapons while Ray sits in the car like a fat piece of shit. But, this time, you wouldn’t believe his luck. In the next driveway, about 50 feet from the getaway vehicle, his daughter’s schoolmates are getting on a bus for a class trip. With his daughter right in front of him during a bank robbery, he realizes what’s truly important and leaves the vehicle, abandoning his crew. What a swell guy and fantastic father.
He’s quickly invited onto the bus as, what else, “The Chaperone”! This is when it really gets funny! You see, the kids are out of control, but he’s big and tough, and he straightens them out! They are no match for “The Chaperone”! His daughter Sally is angry that Dad is around, but as the rest of the students warm up to him, she does too!
Bradstone doesn’t quite have everyone’s support just yet, though. That doesn’t happen until they get to the museum. Unfortunately, the museum is short-staffed, and they don’t have a tour guide for the kids. Enter “The Chaperone”. Not only is he tough and funny, but he’s also AN EXPERT ON DINOSAURS! The kids may not have liked him as first, but the guy knows his prehistory! As he discussed the exhibits, the kids realize, “Wow, Mr. Bradstone IS really cool!”. Most importantly, so does Sally.
ENOUGH OF THIS FUCKING NONSENSE. I sat through every minute of this atrocity, and I’ve now wasted thirty minutes writing a review on it. This is time I will never have back, and I got NOTHING in return from WWE Films for my emotional investment in their product.
The climax, which incorporates one last phone call to Dr. Margerie, couldn’t be less satisfying, believable, or entertaining. It’s the final nail in the coffin on a painful viewing experience.
WWE Films needs to fold. They are stealing money from wrestling fans, and Vince McMahon should be ashamed of himself. “The Chaperone” is insulting to the audience on ever imaginable level. Fuck you, WWE Films. Fuck you.