Unless you’re a fan of either high school wrestling or WWE “RAW” star John Cena, this movie really only has one purpose: It makes a great drinking game. The drama centers on high schooler Cal Chetley (Devon Gray), a self-righteous dork in smalltown Oklahoma who wants to bond with his estranged brother Mike (Cena) through the “no-homo” sport of wrestling. In case you couldn’t tell, Legendary’s based-on-a-true-story action strives to be counted in the Sports Movie Hall of Fame alongside Rudy and Rocky. Apparently, the way to do this is to steal every move from every great ball-, strength-, speed-oriented film ever made. And that makes Legendary hilariously predictable. That’s where the booze comes in. Gather a group of friends, huddle around some “draft beer”, Mike’s movie drink of choice, and place bets on what’s going to happen next. When you’re right, take a drink. Example, “Oh, there’s that mysterious black man (Danny Glover) that Cal met fishing. I bet he gives Cal some worldly advice at a crucial moment in the film.” Take a drink. “Look at that intensely aggravating actress (Madeleine Martin, who stars as Becca Moody on Showtime’s Californication, playing Luli here) flashing her boobs to high school guys for cash, I bet she falls in love with Cal.” Take a drink. “Hey, Cal wants to be a big wrestling star like his dad and brother before him, I feel a training montage coming on.” Take a drink. Actually, you could just drink every time a montage comes up, there are several. Either way, you’re going to get pretty drunk.
That’s probably the only way to enjoy this film for non-wrestling fans, good and smashed. But what else would you expect from a dramatic family film produced by World Wrestling Entertainment? John Cena, a wrestler once characterized by his robotic delivery before becoming the all-star “professor of thuganomics,” seems to have returned to his roots though he only gets in two fights during the entire film, squandering his day-job fame. And yet, compared to every single other character’s constant emotional overreactions and sappy incidental music (that’s what makes it drama y’all), his monotone is a welcome relief. Even though she spends half the film in tears, Patricia Clarkson’s considerable talents are still wasted. I don’t even want to talk about the film’s young star, Devon Graye, who’s only nod to youthful enthusiasm is the phrase “shit howdy,” uttered when he learns something particularly cool from his big brother. Shit howdy? Does anyone really say that? Take a drink.
Top all this off with some old-fashioned racism (Cal calls Mike’s black friend Shaquille O’Neal for no apparent reason, is startled to learn Glover’s character was friends with his dad), sexism (boobie-baring Luli gets advice from Cal’s mother not to chase boys but wait to be chased, and to put on make-up), and a completely unbelievable finale (it’s pretty doubtful the real-life Cal made an entrance to the wrestling state finals as its depicted in the film), and it makes for a doozy of a film, suitable for no one except John Cena fans, high school wrestlers, and drinking game enthusiasts. Take a drink.