Dwayne Johnson is a superstar. His movies aren’t very popular with critics, but his charisma – that smile – keeps him in the game. He can take a good franchise and make it better. He can take an unlikable character and make you root for him because he’s just a pleasant guy and his fans love him. His success can be traced way back to his days as a WWE wrestler, when his motto was “Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?” He made audiences go crazy then, and he still does now. He might not be winning an Oscar any time soon (or ever), but he’s almost always the best part of the movie. This weekend, Johnson comes back to theaters with Snitch. So in light of that, here are the best and worst of his movies.
5. The Game Plan
Johnson isn’t just popular with adults, he’s made a name for himself among kids as well. Unfortunately, the “kids stuff” isn’t usually his best work, though that’s not always his fault (blame the material). In The Game Plan, Johnson plays an NFL quarterback who learns he has an 8-year-old daughter one morning. He’s actually quite good in the movie, but the story is so cheesy and predictable that his charisma can’t save it.
4. Walking Tall
Like most remakes, Walking Tall isn’t very good. Based on the 1973 movie of the same name, Johnson stars alongside Johnny Knoxville. He plays a former U.S. soldier who returns to his hometown to find it overrun by crime and corruption. He decides to do the heroic thing and eliminate the filth, but soon learns that the local law isn’t very keen on cleaning up the town. This fact-based movie wasn’t worthy of Johnson. It was a real disappointment. It was laughable, yes, but the only ones in on the joke were the viewers.
3. Planet 51
It’s hard to hate animated movies, but Planet 51 made it easy. This uninspired kids movie tried to be original and funny, but compared to all of the great animated movies that were also released in 2009 (Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Secret of the Kells, Mary and Max), it came up short. That’s obviously not Johnson’s fault. He was just the voice of one of the characters (Captain Charles T. Baker, a NASA human astronaut). Still, the movie made a ton of movie and that was probably thanks to his superstar presence on the voice cast.
Doom was awful on all fronts – the action sequences, the lighting, the story and yes, the performances. This action/horror movie was loosely based on the popular video game series and followed space marines on a deadly mission to mars. Sounds entertaining right? Wrong. Those two hours that you spent watching Doom, would’ve been better spent playing Doom instead.
1. Tooth Fairy
This was another hit-and-miss for Johnson. Like we mentioned above, he’s got the charisma to make horrible material watchable, but movies like the Tooth Fairy aren’t it. People who liked this movie probably enjoyed it because of him and others on the cast (Julie Andrews, Ashley Judd, Billy Crystal), but as a whole, Tooth Fairy was painful to watch. Don’t ever put The Rock in baby blue satin or wings again!
5. The Scorpion King
The Scorpion King has a predictable plot, but the intentional humor makes it fun and enjoyable. This tongue-in-cheek adventure movie is a prequel to The Mummy, and stars Johnson as Mathayus, the last of his kind. Johnson holds it all together and his performance makes up for the story. Overall, it was a good movie in the summer of 2002.
Faster features a different kind of Dwayne Johnson. Gone is the charismatic smile. He’s serious in this movie, and it works (though that smile works too!). Here he plays James Cullen (or Driver), a man who is out for revenge. He spent the last ten years of his life in prison, and when he gets out all he wants to do is kill those responsible for killing his brother. Billy Bob Thornton plays the guy who tries to hunt him down. This grindhouse picture shows Johnson in full action mode, and that makes it worthwhile.
3. The Rundown
It’s hard for a movie to be both a hit at the box office and with the critics. Johnson’s movies score the cash, but garner little praise. In the case of The Rundown however, the situation was reversed. This is one of Johnson’s better reviewed movies (and also one of his best as you can tell from this list), but it was a financial failure. Oh well, the few of us who did see it appreciated the chemistry between The Rock and Seann William Scott. They make a great, fun pair!
2. The Other Guys
The Other Guys is not a Dwayne Johnson movie. It’s a buddy cop pic that stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Johnson has a very brief role at the beginning. He plays a decorated and cocky police officer who, along with Samuel L. Jackson, leaps to his death in a “heroic” attempt to catch some petty criminals. Ferrell and Wahlberg are left behind to fill in the hero roles, and they are funny together. Johnson’s cameo is brief, but fun. He and Jackson destroy a lot of property in their short time onscreen. This year we’ll get to see if Wahlberg can have the same kind of chemistry with Johnson as he did with Ferrell in Michael Bay‘s Pain & Gain.
1. Fast Five
The Fast & Furious franchise doesn’t try to be anything more than it is – silly, stupid mindless and mind-blowing action. Fans wanted to see Vin Diesel and Johnson in a movie together, and they got their wish. Did the big-guy collaboration live up to the hype? It sure did! The franchise was doing alright without Johnson, but he brought new life to it. He took something good and made it better. He has that kind of power. And even though this franchise belongs to Diesel and Paul Walker, Johnson was the star of that last one.
Which is your favorite Dwayne Johnson movie?