• Nate Adams

'Rumble' review: Wrestling monsters can't animate this mercilessly boring slugfest


Courtesy of Paramount+

 

Ugly animation and the need for co-producer WWE to introduce their brand onto youngsters across the globe, the artificial Paramount Pictures children flick “Rumble” is positioned as a “Godzilla Vs. Kong” or “Pacific Rim” battle royale for your toddlers. Except the rock em’ sock em’ format and airless plotting might actually steer them away from watching WWE and instead pick a fight with their siblings. Written and directed by Dreamworks Animation vet Hamish Grieve, “Rumble” never evolves to a level of approachability and has a clear lack of imagination. The monsters are generic renderings of popular kaiju creations and the redemptive story arch feels ripped from the pages of Grieve’s other, much better, projects. There’s a reason the studio dumped “Rumble” on its sister streaming service after numerous delays due to the pandemic.


Taking place in a world where humans build their lives around a weekly monster death jam as if it were the Super Bowl, “Rumble” puts the spotlight on a catalog of creatures vying for a heavyweight championship belt in the town of Stoker where the plucky Winnie McEvoy (Geraldine Viswanathan), daughter of a coaching legend, is looking for the next best thing. Stoker was known for being the home turf to the late Monster icon Rayburn (Charles Barkley) who won more tournaments than any creature, paving the way for the city’s next biggest competitor: Tentacular (Terry Crews). But like Tom Brady departing New England for Tampa Bay, the slimy athlete is taking his talents elsewhere for a bigger payday.


Winnie goes on a recruiting trip and stumbles upon a lowlife sap named Steve (Will Arnett) who is paid to lose fights and also, coincidentally, happens to be the son of Rayburn. We learn Steve doesn’t like to sling punches so much as get jiggy on the dance floor and Winnie choreographs them into his wrestling moves. It might sound engaging on the surface level, but it sends weird signals about what or why Steve, who turns down Winnie's advances numerous times, wants to jump back into the ring. The fundamentals and moves of wrestling are briefly explored (a pile driver anyone?) though young children might not care and revert to swindling their feet around the living room. Steve has moves, but it really doesn’t have much to say about wrestling. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee I guess?


Running a scant 90-minutes, “Rumble” buffers its runtime with stale jokes, flavorless characters (including the obligatory marketing tech guru who talks in brospeak) and no sense of identity. For a movie so keen on throwing down in the ring and rumbling, there’s not much here beside the silence from laughter that never comes.


Let’s get readddddddy to snooze!


Grade: D-


RUMBLE is now streaming on Paramount+


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