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RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, 2009
Movie Review

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RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
Movie Review
Directed by Andy Fickman
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

A UFO expert enlists the help of a cabbie to protect two siblings with paranormal powers from the clutches of an organization that wants to use the kids for their nefarious plans.

REVIEW:

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is now officially a movie star. I would like to knight him on that pedestal today. He seems to get it and use all his "get" factor on screen. Charm, handsomeness, machoness, sensitivity, sexiness and also the ability to kick a lot of butt and beat up whomever is in his way.

I have watched Mr. Rock's career right from the beginning. I was in high school when he appeared in the WWF as Rocky Maivia, the super nice-guy wrestler with a heart of gold. Then in my first year of university he turned on the nice-guy world and became The Rock, the bad-ass who joined The Nation of Domination, WWF's version of a black gang. The Rock left the gang and went corporate by the time sophomore year came and joined the McMahan family as he seemed to square off against Mick Foley (Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack), future New York Times bestselling author. Then by the time I was graduating The Rock went off on his own to be his own man and was definitely more famous for the speeches he made than his wrestling matches. His famous catchphrase being: "Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?"

During this 5 year period, Dwayne Johnson became the #1 Wrestling superstar while the "wrassling buzness" completely changed. No longer were there good guy vs bad guy matches. It was bad guy that the audience liked vs the bad guy the audience didn't like. The Rock became the great anti-hero of Americana right at the same time Tony Soprano did. We seemed to love them the more bad they did. As we moved into a new century and our heroes weren't really heroes anymore.

Vince McMahon, head of the WWF (now WWE after a World Wildlife lawsuit), saw that The Rock was different than other wrestlers. Yes, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H were also huge fan favorites on par with The Rock, but they didn't have the charm that he did. McMahon, after failing in the football business, went to the movie business and banked on The Rock being a commercial success for his company. The Scorpion King was the first film and after it became a hit, The Rock didn't go back to wrestling. He was bound for Hollywood and intended to stay.

Now 9 years later, he is now just Dwayne Johnson the actor who is currently appearing in the Disney film The Race to Witch Mountain. He's come a long way and his wrestling job now seems a long ways away.

The Race to Witch Mountain is a typical PG-13 kids film. The authority is always our antagonist (this time the government) as a group of kids and two adults who become attracted to each other during the conflicts, rush to a destination so the right thing can be done. It's a formula that's been used over a dozen times and it's the roller-coaster ride of a plot plus the charm of the leads that separates the film from the pack. And The Race to Witch Mountain does just that.

You can go back to many Hitchcock films to find this type of plot. I call it the up and down theory of the thriller genre. A situation occurs to a common person and sets him/her off on an adventure. In this adventure good things happen and then bad things happen. Good things happen and then bad things happen. Up and down we go emotionally until its conclusion where we end up (most of the time) feeling excited about the ride we just took and want to tell others to take the same ride.

Dwayne Johnson pulls off a Gary Cooper like performance in The Race to Witch Mountain. He is the centerpiece that's needed for the audience to follow around no matter how silly things appear.

I really liked this film and have a sense of pride in seeing how far The Rock has come. At the time I had no idea why I kept watching this silly wrestling program on a weekly basis, but this Rock character kept pulling me in. And it's all about charm. That quality that we all want to have but almost all of us don't. But the ones that do we can't help but like and follow. Even to Disney.

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