I attended a screening earlier this week of Dwayne Johnson's latest film, Race to Witch Mountain, which opens today. It might be Johnson's best movie yet, although I really like Gridiron Gang and The Game Plan as well
Every time I watch one of Johnson's movies, it always makes me proud as a wrestling fan that one of our own has become such a mainstream success. Actually, it's more than just his movie star status that I'm proud of; it's also the level of respect that he has in Hollywood.
Hulk Hogan is perhaps even more of a household name than Johnson, but he was never taken seriously as an actor and his resume consists of nothing but B movies, excluding his cameo in Rocky III.
It's highly unlikely that Johnson will ever compete for roles with Sean Penn, but he's certainly not regarded as a joke. He has overcome the stigma of getting his start in the entertainment business in pro wrestling and is considered a decent actor by many movie critics.
Race to Witch Mountain is a fun family movie with a lot of special effects, but it's Johnson's portrayal of a Las Vegas cab driver and reformed ex-con who suddenly finds himself trying save Earth from extinction that truly gives the movie its charm. Johnson definitely has the tough guy-with-a-heart character down pat, as he has now played that role in several films.
In this movie, he again displays the comic timing that entertained wrestling fans during his years in WWE. As The Rock, everything Johnson did was intentionally over the top, but one of his best traits as a movie actor is that he resists the temptation to chew the scenery, even in a movie as fantastical as Race to Witch Mountain. His screen presence and charisma come across naturally.
On a side note, there was a story yesterday on contactmusic.com about Johnson wanting to do a Broadway musical. He has demonstrated that he can carry a tune, and as far as his dancing ability, he said: "I'm half Samoan, you know, and part of our culture is singing and dancing daily."
Hey, as long as he dances better than fellow Samoan Rikishi, I think he should go for it.