Legendary. You don’t have to go to a fancy acting school like Stella Adler’s here in New York to make a good impression on your audience. John Cena, World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion, does just fine in “Legenday,” playing…a heavyweight champion, in this case in his small-town Oklahoma high school. The thirty-three-year old fellow who could probably give Arnold a tumble today performs in the role of a guilt-ridden (yes, a wrestler who is guilt-ridden) chap who feels so responsible for the death of his father that he compounds the injury by estranging himself from his 16-year-old kid brother and his mom. As for the brother, is it really possible that they came from the same man and woman? Their DNA’s are as opposite as you can get. John Cena in the role of Mike Chetley is musclebound, a guy who may have graduated from high school though I could not blame Riverside High for trying to keep him around for another decade to win championships for the next ten years. His brother Cal Chetley (Devon Traye) is 16-years-old, a geek who fiddles around a pond with catfish when he is not studying, skinny and nerdy enough to be the butt of a trio of stereotypical bullies.
Cal, who probably never played a sport more strenuous than fishing, wants to become a wrestler, partly to take on these bullies but much more important to get his big brother together with the family, namely his mom, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson). To do this he must track the guy down and, after finding him, must convince him not only to train him to become a champ wrestler (in what, a few weeks when everyone else must have been on the team for years?). By “getting to know” him, and his “getting to know” the kid, Cal will manipulate Mike to join the family. Oh, they get the help of another fisherman, “Red” (Danny Glover), who for most of the movie could be either a figment of Cal’s imagination or a guardian angel sent from on high-but whose identity becomes known at the end. It’s a surprise!
“Legendary” is a surprising entry from distributor Samuel Goldwyn, known for quality indie products, this time around hitching on to Hallmark Hall of Fame schmaltz. Nothing wrong with schmaltz taken with a bagel on a Sunday morning, especially after being battered by the distant and alienating blockbuster, “Inception.” While this is good family entertainment, a feel-good pic all the way that should find a slot on TV, the acting is involving, the scenes of wrestling look authentic, and Patricia Clarkson towers over all others to nobody’s surprise.