Moviegoers smell what The Rock is cookin’
When I interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson just over a year ago while he was promoting Gridiron Gang, I saw how enthusiastic he was about his next project, The Game Plan. After hearing the premise – he plays an NFL quarterback living the bachelor lifestyle until he discovers he has a young daughter from a former relationship – and learning that it was a Disney family comedy, I understood why he was so excited about it. With The Game Plan, Johnson figured he could broaden his appeal and become an even bigger movie star.
The early indications are that Johnson’s game plan is a winner. Despite less-than-rave reviews, The Game Plan was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, taking in $22.7 million, according to studio estimates. As a result, Johnson’s Q rating among moms, dads and kids has almost certainly skyrocketed.
I haven’t had a chance to see the movie yet, but I definitely saw a lot of Johnson on Saturday. I spent several hours watching The Disney Channel with my daughter, and Johnson was all over it, including playing himself on an episode of Hannah Montana, a popular kids show starring Billy Ray Cyrus (who just needs a beer in his hand and a cowboy hat to be a dead ringer for TNA’s James Storm).
Being both a wrestling fan and a Johnson fan, I have mixed emotions about his acting fame. The more firmly entrenched in Hollywood Johnson becomes, the slimmer the chances that he ever again steps foot in a wrestling ring. Everyone knows you never say never in pro wrestling, but at this point, there’s probably more likelihood of Bruno Sammartino making a comeback in WWE than there is of Johnson putting the tights back on. And that’s a real shame, because WWE hasn’t been the same without him.
But as much as I miss watching “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment,” I’m happy for his success. Having interviewed Johnson at various stages of his career – the first time was when he was a member of The Nation of Domination in 1997 – I have always found him to be a class act and the kind of guy you root for. When talking with Johnson, it’s apparent that he has a lot of confidence in himself, but that confidence never comes across as arrogance, and he seems truly thankful for his achievements.