Legendary (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Legendary (2010)

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Legendary was WWE films first shot at “serious filmmaking.”  I put that in quotation because I still can’t get my head around a company that still finds great humor in midgets trying to make a respected drama, but damn did they try with Legendary. They started out without getting too far out of their wheelhouse and made a sports drama about wrestling, although the real kind and not pro wrestling.  The story revolves around Cal Chetley, a beanpole and book smart kid who comes from a family of great wrestlers.  His father, who died 10 years before the story, and older brother Mike were both champion wresters and Cal decides if there is anything to get his fractured family back together it would be through wrestling.   His mother, Patricia Clarkson, does not agree with him and wants him to have nothing to do with his older brother.

Mike played by WWE star John Cena has had a hard life in the ten years since his father died and is now barely surviving in a beat-up old trailer.  Mike is also a magnet for trouble because even though he is the size of a small house drunk hillbillies seem to pick fights with him constantly.  Cal in a story that only ever happens in films convinces a judge to keep Mike out of jail because they are all each other has. Mike now feels an obligation to help his little brother out by teaching him how to wrestle including the super duper secret and dangerous move the crane kick or as it is called in this film the cradle. If you can’t guess when this special move comes into play I want to congratulate you on never seeing a sports film before.

Danny Glover, mysterious man of advice and encouragement.

This might be the plot of the movie but it is leaving out some of the more head scratching moments.   The movie includes a very awkward relationship between Cal and his mom that borders on creepy.  In the beginning of the film the two don’t seem like they had a close mother-son bond as much as they were flirting with each other.  A few times I honestly thought that the two were about to kiss, which isn’t what (I hope) they were going for.  I also really enjoyed Danny Glover as the wise old man at the “fishin hole” that gave sage like advice.  He pops up gives a homily and then departs the movie for long stretches of time.  His character is explained in the end but I think it would have been funnier if no explanation were given on why he was so interested in this kids life.

Finally, the rules of wrestling were never explained in the film.   While people who know the nuances of amateur wrestling could probably follow the film’s wrestling scenes easily the people who don’t follow the sport would have very little idea who was doing well and who wasn’t.  When a lot of the movie balances on how a character is progressing in a sport not knowing what is going on hurts that narrative drive.

You can't tell in this picture, but he can barely squeeze in that truck, the dude is huge.

Yet Legendary much like Knucklehead is very harmless and is not that bad to watch.  Patricia Clarkson gives a good performance and it was interesting to see John Cena try to play a character that wasn’t running and holding a gun 90% of the film.  The end is effective in terms of making you actually care about the outcome even though the pageantry is a little outlandish.   Legendary was never going to win any awards or respect, but it did prove that the WWE can make a film that doesn’t revolve around violence or fart jokes.

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Posted by Ryan

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