Yeardley Smith, left, and Paul Levesque star in "The Chaperone." (Samuel Goldwyn Films )
World Wrestling Entertainment's diversification project — trying to turn its bulky ring superstars into marquee names — continues with the Paul "Triple H" Levesque vehicle "The Chaperone." But like last year's "Legendary" and "Knucklehead," which didn't exactly slam moviegoers to the mat with their entertainment chops, this haphazardly clichéd comedy-drama about redemption similarly suffers.
Fresh from a seven-year prison stint, getaway driver Ray Bradstone (Levesque) looks to reconnect with his ex (Annabeth Gish) and their teenage daughter Sally (Ariel Winter), who wants nothing to do with him. A last-second gut check about driving his old crew (led by Kevin Corrigan) for one last bank robbery leads him instead to chaperone Sally's class on a big city museum field trip. Cue the peeved criminals to give chase.
Screenwriter S.J. Roth's reliance on coincidence, hokey gags and hokier second-chance platitudes is breathtaking enough, but director Stephen Herek — who was once a big-studio formula guy ("Mr. Holland's Opus") — manages his own alarming lack of verve. That leaves the actors to flounder.
Levesque has rough, in-the-moment charm but paltry characterization skills, Corrigan's natural edge feels out of place as a Disney-esque hoodlum and Winter seems hamstrung playing an adolescent only a fraction as compelling as her hilariously bookish daughter on the ABC sitcom "Modern Family."
"The Chaperone." MPAA rating: PG-13 for some violence, rude humor and language. Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes. At Harkins Chino Hills 18, Chino Hills.