Friday, February 19, 2010 at 10:40PM
Will we now have to start taking the WWE seriously? As an entertainment option, I think we already do: Monday Night Raw is one of the consistent ratings drivers on cable, and the crossover appeal of some of its stars is hard to ignore. But now the WWE movie brand is stepping up its game, too.
After a few quick hits thanks to Dwayne Johnson, it looked like Vince McMahon's company would settle into a comfortable direct-to-video niche for some of its in-ring stars, like John Cena (the first Marine) and Ted DiBiase, Jr. (the most recent Marine). But with its most recent project and the one just announced by Variety, fake wrestling is starting to look more and more legit.
The studio is coming off a movie that features Cena, The Big Show...and Danny Glover and Patricia Clarkson. You read right. Now read this: The wrestling outfit's Randy Orton will co-star in Big Red with Amy Madigan and her husband, four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris. I think I need to sit down.
The film is described as a family drama set in the 1960s, with Harris playing a middle school teacher who pairs the school's biggest outcast - Stanley aka Big Redd - with its brightest student, Andy. "When Andy watches Stanley fearlessly confront a school bully, a series of events is unleashed that changes the lives of the boys and their teacher," writes Variety. Orton would play the father of the bully, who angles to get Harris fired. Short of that, he'll just hit him with a chair.
You guessed right: This is not the usual blow 'em up that McMahon and company usually release, and the hiring of Ed Harris is certainly a pleasant surprise. With nine movies on the WWE's slate in the next two-plus years, who knows what this kind of thing could lead to. As long as it's not another Hulk Hogan/nanny movie, they might be on the right track.