DIRECTOR: Hamish Grieve

CAST: Will Arnett, Geraldine Viswanathan, Terry Crews, Fred Melamed, Charles Barkley, Chris Eubank, Bridget Everett, Ben Schwartz, Brian Baumgartner, Jimmy Tatro, Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns, Tony Danza, Susan Kelechi Watson, Carlos Gómez, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Buffer, Tony Shalhoub, Greta Lee, John DiMaggio, Jamal Duff, Carlos Alazraqui, Tara Strong

RUNNING TIME: 95 mins

CERTIFICATE: PG

BASICALLY…: A giant monster (Arnett) trains to become the next champion of monster wrestling…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

In early 2020, I distinctly remember seeing trailers in the cinema for an animated wrestling comedy called Rumble – flash forward to two-and-a-half years later, and it’s only now being shown on UK screens, but not in the way I would have imagined back then. Like a lot of pending film releases during the pandemic, Rumble got pushed back repeatedly, until it was announced that it would forego a theatrical run after all and be quietly dumped onto streaming; Paramount+ finally debuted the film late last year, but the streamer’s UK launch some six months later meant that only now are us Brits finally getting a movie that we had first heard about out of the blue two years ago.

After all this time, though, Rumble oddly does feel like a movie that belongs on a streaming platform instead of a cinema. Aside from being overwhelmingly mediocre, the movie lacks much ambition in its visuals, ideas, and especially its storytelling to really feel worthy of a major theatrical presence.

The film is set in a world where giant monsters exist amongst humans, but in typical human fashion they are mostly used for mere entertainment, specifically the sport of monster wrestling, which is exactly what it sounds like (did I mention that WWE is also one of the studios behind this movie?). The monsters represent prominent locations in giant stadiums, such as arrogant rising star Tentacular (Terry Crews) who initially fights for the small town of Stoker, but when he suddenly ditches the town in favour of a much more lucrative contract, the town faces financial ruin, as well as the destruction of its stadium which was erected in honour of a local monster wrestling trainer, who has since passed away. His daughter Winnie (Geraldine Viswanathan), a wrestling enthusiast and aspiring trainer, sets out to find a new monster to represent Stoker, and eventually finds one in the form of Rayburn Jr. (Will Arnett), the son of Stoker’s most famous monster wrestler who now goes by the name Steve. Winnie must now train Steve to be the best monster wrestler possible, if he is to have any chance in the ring and restore glory to the town’s name and legacy.

Like the vast majority of sports movies, particularly ones about underdog (or in this case, undermonster) wrestlers, you know exactly where it’s going to go from the very first minute. However, that’s hardly a criticism anymore, because it’s a commonly accepted fact that most sports movies follow this simple but functional formula through and through, and that it’s more about whether the movie simply executes those familiar conventions well enough. Unfortunately, Rumble is nowhere near as fun as its premise about giant monsters duking it out in the ring would suggest, because it offers precious few laughs, paper-thin characters, and obvious morals that even this movie’s young target audience could predict from the offset. None of it adds up to a particularly memorable movie, because there isn’t much to carry a viewer’s attention in terms of its lame humour, stock characters, or unimpressive visuals (it’s not a terribly animated movie, but it’s also one where not even the designs of the monsters themselves offer much creativity), leaving you fighting the urge not to play on your phone whilst watching it.

Of course, not every animated film has to be of Pixar quality, but they have to at least offer something other than just waving a bunch of images in front of the screen, which even that can get exhausting after a while because the movie moves along at such a quick and relentless pace, that by the time it reaches the big climax it barely feels like much time has passed at all. It also leaves you little time to think about how this world is supposed to work, such as the fact that monsters only seem to function as wrestlers or in wrestling-related jobs like a commentator, but apparently have little use elsewhere in society such as manual labour or anything more substantial. You can’t think about this and other small things in this universe because the movie is too busy trying to quickly move from point A to point B without thinking too hard, and it just makes these holes all the more glaring when you actually are able to think about it once it’s all over and done with.

It’s an unfortunate waste of its promising premise, since it could genuinely work if it had better writing that could actually be funny, allow characters to be more than just one-dimensional cut-outs, and maybe also go with a plot that hasn’t been done in every other movie like this. It really is for the best that this one ended up skipping cinemas, because unless you’re a really, really young and impressionable kid, you’re unlikely to get anything out of this in a theatrical setting, let alone at home on-demand where it belongs.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Rumble fails to do anything fun with its promising premise, and instead opts for overwhelming mediocrity from a tried-and-tested plot that can’t get by on its lame humour, thin characters, uninspiring visuals and an overall lack of ambition.

Rumble is now available to stream on Paramount+.

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