The Shutdown Corner movie of the week: 'Gridiron Gang'

MJD

Every Wednesday (or Thursday) Shutdown Corner will take a second to focus on a recent or not-so-recent book or movie. This week, it's the 2006 Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson vehicle, "Gridiron Gang."

The nice thing about "Gridiron Gang" is that we don't have to worry about issuing spoiler alerts, because everyone knows what's going to happen. I don't mean that once you see half the movie, it's easily predictable where the rest of it is going. I mean that even before you step foot in the theatre, you know exactly where the movie's going.

And I'd be fine with that if the trip there was made artfully, emotionally or with some originality. Here, it's not. Everybody just gets their regular old bus ticket and gets there.

The movie stars The Rock, Xzibit, and Rose from "Lost." The Rock and Xzibit both turn in perfectly acceptable performances, and I could envision both of them handling more ambitious projects, but the rest of the movie is such standard fare that I spent most of the time thinking about Rose and "Lost."

Specifically, I wondered if maybe The Rock could be the son of Rose and Bernard. Here's how I figured it. Rose and Bernard are in 1977, right? That would make The Rock 32 years old. He could pass for 32. I'd find that believable.

Not that there weren't doubts, too. Rose, obviously, while on the island, is past the childbearing age. But if we can have two John Lockes, a smoke monster, and a polar bear on a tropical island, we can have an older lady giving birth. And don't worry about Bernard. You know that cat's bringing the thunder. Also, I'm not precisely sure of The Rock's ethnicity, but I could buy that he was the fruit of Rose and Bernard's loins. If not, maybe Jin and Rose got a little freaky at some point when Sun was off the island. I don't know.

Anyway, I looked it up after the movie, and The Rock is 37. So it's not possible. It's a shame. He would've made a nice addition to the cast in season six.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, "Gridiron Gang." It's alright, I guess. Honestly, I can't find much reason to talk about it. If you want to see it, knock yourself out. It's not going to be a particularly moving two hours of your life.

There was one thing that bothered me, though, that I feel like I should mention. The whole movie was about these kids looking for a second chance, finding redemption, and believing in themselves, right? Overcoming blatant racism was never a central theme. Not that I don't believe they did have to overcome blatant racism, but it's just not what the film was about.

So when a random "n-bomb" was tossed in towards the end of the movie, from a white player on the privileged, real high school team to a black player on the prison team, it seemed a little cheap to me. It felt like it was done for just one cheap little shock; one cheap little reason to dislike that character and root for another. And the slightly modified version of the "n-bomb" that was thrown back at the white player seemed just as cheap.

I don't think that's a moment the filmmakers ought to be particularly proud of.