Movie Review: ‘Rumble’

Review by James Lindorf

Paramount’s animated feature “Rumble” was initially slated to be a big summer event in July of 2020. Of course, we know what happened. First, it was pushed back to January, then May, then February 2022. But after more than a year late and two months ahead of schedule, “Rumble” is now available exclusively on the Paramount+.

The city of Stoker was once home to the greatest team in World Monster Wrestling League history, Rayburn and his human trainer, Jimbo. After their tragic disappearance, the town was left searching for a reason to hope and cheer again. After years of mourning, Stoker has again fully invested in a monster. This time it is the powerful newcomer Tentacular (Terry Crews). After defeating the reigning champion and claiming his first title, Tentacular declares he is taking his talents to Slitherpoole. With the town crushed by his betrayal and facing financial ruin, Jimbo’s daughter, Winnie (Geraldine Viswanathan), goes in search of a new champion. Turned away from every credible monster, she finds her way to Steve (Will Arnett), the forgotten son of Rayburn. Steve spends his career throwing fights for the boss of an underground fighting league, the brutal Lady Mayhem (Bridget Everett). In debt, Steve agrees to undergo her unusual training, face dangerous opponents, and help Winnie in her dream of becoming a monster coach and saving Stoker.

The target audience for “Rumble” is children and children at heart, especially those who loved wrestling at any point in their life. After spending most of his career in the animation department, first-time feature director Hamish Grieve and his co-writer Matt Lieberman (Free Guy) are in a rush to get you to the jokes and the monster fighting action. “Rumble” starts with a furious pace explaining the world, monster wrestling, and the loss of Rayburn and Jimbo. What should have been an emotional moment like Doc Hudson’s flashback in “Cars” or the opening of “Up” isn’t given the time to breathe and impact the viewers the way you would hope. Before you can grasp how good things were, they go wrong, and before you can appreciate that they are good again. Five minutes later, we are on another downslope of this roller coaster. Once Winnie begins her search for a champion, the pacing slows down and makes more time for humor and sports movie tropes like a solid training montage.

While Will Arnett and Geraldine Viswanathan headline “Rumble,” it features an all-star sports-themed cast with WWE Superstars Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch, announcer Michael Buffer, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, and former NFL defensive end Terry Crews. Thankfully it is not just a bunch of first-time voice actors as some serious Hollywood names joined that cast as well. Ben Schwartz, Jimmy Tatro, Tony Danza, Bridget Everett, and Tony Shalhoub all lend their voices to important roles. I always love Tony Shalhoub, but my favorite performance is from Tatro as Lights Out McGinty, a giant angler fish, and Stephen A Smith’s broadcasting partner. His performance is reminiscent of Jonah Hill or what Jason Bateman was doing in the movie “Dodgeball.” Smith is just himself with a different name, which is mildly interesting. Still, the best parts of the commentary come from Tatro, who always steals a scene when the movie slows down. I constantly had to remind myself, Arnett voiced Steve. He isn’t doing himself, and he isn’t doing Lego Batman, but what he is doing sounds oddly like Seth Rogen at times which was mildly distracting.

“Rumble” doesn’t reach lofty Pixar levels, but it is fun for the entire family. The varied and brightly colored monsters, action, and rapid pace of “Rumble” should keep kids’ attention, and adults will get a few jokes they can chuckle at. Unlike some children’s entertainment, nothing here will make anyone old enough to have a job want to pull their hair out, even on repeat viewings. “Rumble” could have used a little more pep in its humor and dialogue, which trends towards silly, but it is a solid monster battle earning a 3 out of 5.

Rating: PG
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family, Fantasy
Original Language: English
Director: Hamish Grieve
Producer: Mark Bakshi, Brad Booker
Writer: Matt Lieberman and Hamish Grieve
Release Date (Streaming on Paramount+): December 15th, 2021

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