Stop me if you’ve heard this plot before: WWE Champion HHH plays a recently released Ex-Con who has nobly taken the fall for an obnoxious comedic sidekick and he’s trying to make good with a family he left behind. You could mistake this exact same premise for the other HHH movie I watched, The Chaperone. Which fizzled HHH as an Ex-Con Attempting to Go Straight movie will be left standing? Let’s check it out.
Inside Out (2011)
Not to be confused with the Pixar animated smash hit of the same name, this movie was filmed the same year as The Chaperone. It’s shot in Louisiana again, presumably with leftover sets, extras, and food from The Chaperone. The plot bends over backwards to make convicted felon HHH seem like a good guy. Since HHH nobly took the fall for his buddy, and doesn’t rat on his much guiltier friends, he’s practically innocent, right? I will suggest that if there was enough evidence to convict him for 13 years, he’s far from innocent.
The movie also features a contemptuous teenage daughter and some reminiscing about juicy steaks. Man, there’s serious deja vu watching these two movies back to back. You’d think that HHH would say, “You know what, I just did this exact same movie. Maybe I should switch it up.” But nope, here he is trying and failing to seem humble and earnest again, while trading zingers with the always whiny and obnoxious Michael Rapaport, who NEVER shuts up. Whether talking about sexing up women or his sweaty balls, his conversations are always unpleasant. Here, he’s narrator as well as wacky sidekick, so he’s got his greasy fingers all over this movie.
The hallmark of a bad movie #2,871 is unnecessarily convoluted story telling. We start with HHH and his flowing blonde locks in bed with a mysterious woman. A teenage girl comes home and gets a pickle out of the refrigerator (the pickle is a theme in this movie.) Then HHH is shot by an unseen assailant in crappy, grainy slow-mo like this badly made movie has the same gravitas as American Beauty or Casino. Flashback 6 months and Michael Rapaport picks HHH up from the prison release bus. HHH even insists on driving again, like in The Chaperone. Rapaport and HHH bond over scars they got pulling jobs, like that scene in Lethal Weapon 3 with Mel Gibson and Renee Russo, but here it’s played with more sexual tension.
Canadian HHH and New Yorker Rapaport seem to have no reason to even be in Louisiana, except for those sweet, sweet filming tax breaks. Bruce Dern and Parker Posey show up earning their paychecks because they’re the only entertaining parts of the movie. Dern is Rapaport’s father, who’s running black market cigarettes and he chews the scenery like the old pro he is. You know the filmmakers sat around trying to find a crime that doesn’t seem that bad so that HHH will look more sympathetic. Dealing black market cigarettes doesn’t seem as bad as say, cooking and dealing crystal meth, but it’s still a crime and HHH is still a scumbag. Also, Dern is never really threatening as the octogenarian crime boss with a cane, even though he’s sort of the main villain here. Parker Posey should earn hazard play for convincingly flirting with HHH and sharing a gross kiss with him. Posey is pretty good in a thankless, concerned mom role.
This is a really dull crime melodrama, with precious little action, while starring a man-beast wrestler with no acting ability or on-screen charisma. Rapaport is a screw-up who practically browbeats HHH into going into a mafia bar to get the plot going. HHH goes along because his character is a useless mope. Then for absolutely no reason, Rapaport whips out a gun and accidentally shoots a black market cigarette dealer when he coughs. I’m not kidding. It’s that stupid. You can tell the filmmakers were trying to lessen the impact of Rapaport violently murdering a dude. “How about if he doesn’t execute him with two bullets in the back of the head, but just sort of sneezes and the gun goes off?” “Yeah, so Rapaport is just an appallingly bad screw-up and not a violent psychopath, because noble hero HHH would never be friends with a violent psychopath. I like it.” Although HHH does help Rapaport and the mob bar owner dispose of the body, so they all commit felonies.
In a terrible subplot, a female CIA agent is investigating the disappearance of her informant, the guy that Rapaport accidentally killed. She’s a comically bad driver in an otherwise serious movie. She’s always swerving through traffic while texting. Her method of investigation is to go up to places where she thinks he may have been and bang on the door. HHH is usually there, and never lets her in. This happens a lot.
There’s also a bad subplot where HHH has plans to turn his passion for pickles into a business. He wins the hearts of the aggrieved daughter and Parker Posey with his “special” garlic and dill pickles. There’s garlic and dill in all pickles, dude. It’s like saying your specialty is a burger with ketchup and mustard. Hey Hollywood, I’m available to pickle consult on any pickle themed movies if you’re interested. Also, eating a pickle looks weird on camera.
Then another bad subplot is HHH has a sickly mom who browbeats him. I like how when HHH goes to visit her in the sanitarium, there’s a bunch of Buddhist monks in robes wandering around, and HHH has to turn his chair backwards to sit down, being that he’s such a “cool, bad-ass” that doesn’t sit in chairs the normal way.
In another unintentionally funny bit, Bruce Dern’s henchmen always leave a note saying “Ka-boom” whenever a crappy computer-generated explosion is about to go off. Why do you leave a note that HHH can find so that he can heroically run away from the blast?
I’d say the single highlight of the movie is actress Jency Griffin as a bad-ass female henchman to Bruce Dern. She doesn’t have many lines, but she’s menacing and makes more of an impression than either HHH or Rapaport. Later on, she gets into a fistfight with HHH that should be good but it lasts 30 seconds and the only move HHH does is he punches her in the face while on his hands and knees, which is an impossible feat unless HHH has freakishly long arms like Plastic Man or Stretch Armstrong.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There is no reason to see either HHH movie. If I had to pick which of the terrible HHH starring vehicles is better, I’d say The Chaperone is slightly more watchable, but it’s kind of like picking the better football team between the 2017 (0-16) Browns and the 2008 (0-16) Lions. Unlike all the other WWE Wrestlers turned thespians, HHH opted not to have any action in his movies. He tries to get by on acting and charisma, but he’s only good playing an egomaniacal jackass like in his wrestling career. Unless you’re a WWE Films completist, there’s no reason to see either movie. HHH still sucks.