I never thought I’d have to sit through the dreadful comedy “The Chaperone” ever again in my life! Yet, here I am, finishing up a viewing on a Friday night because I know how to party. I could easily blame FAN forum member Screwball for programming this film, his runner-up prize in a contest. I won’t though, as I only have myself to blame. I left the door wide open for the victor to subject me to a terrible film, and I am the Cinemasochist after all, so it’s only fitting. Besides, I would’ve done the same thing in his position. Hell, I have done this exact same thing, even down to programming this very film for a fellow film enthusiast (“The Death Rattler” Aaron). Karma’s a bitch!
I thought I had reviewed this film upon its release five years ago, but I find no such evidence. If I did, it is lost in the annals of time, or is on a flash drive somewhere. I was at first thinking of using said review as a cop out, haggling with Screwball to pick another film because of this. I came to my senses and determined this wouldn’t be fair. It had been five years since that review would’ve been written, so a new review can suffice. After all, my writing and taste should have improved by then…at least I hope so.
I was also going to use that nonexistent review as research. Having not remembered much of “The Chaperone,” it would’ve serviced as cliff notes. It also would’ve been interesting to compare my thoughts of the film upon its release to my thoughts of it today. Opinions on a film can alter over time. For example, I used to hate “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” for it not including Michael Myers and being too cheesy. Now, I quite enjoy the film, loving the departure from the Michael Myers saga and find the cheesiness to be endearing. All I know about my previous experience with “The Chaperone” is that I didn’t like it. Not much has changed.
I may have developed a bit more disdain for the film upon my second viewing. I vaguely recall cutting the film some slack for its attempt at the father-daughter bonding at the epicenter of the film. While I still find that aspect of the film to be slightly endearing, it’s the only thing I found so. The rest of the film is an encapsulation of the worst kind of comedy: the lazy kind. In this case, there’s barely any attempt at humor, with jokes only appearing occasionally out of incidents involving a car accident involving a truck delivering diapers, a bank robber wearing a Condoleezza Rice mask, or the screeching yelp of a teacher. The rest of the film’s humor is non-existent.
The story is as predictable as they come. Ray Bradstone (Triple H) has just finished a seven-year prison sentence for assisted robbery. He was the getaway driver for Phillip Larue (Kevin Corrigan), who threw him under the bus when the cops arrived. Ray has vowed to go straight in order to reconcile with his daughter, Sally (Ariel Winter). Both Phillip and life get in the way, as Ray has no choice but to return to getaway driving for work. In the heat of the moment, Ray makes the right decision, abandoning his cohorts in the middle of a robbery. He flees the scene and boards the bus in which his daughter is taking a field trip on, acting as a chaperone.
Phillip and his merry men of idiotic thugs hunt down Ray, both for revenge and to retrieve the bag of stolen money that was stashed in the bus’ carry-on. The humor is to arrive from Ray frantically avoiding the criminals whilst acting as a tour guide, but there’s not many gags in S.J. Roth’s script. There is a sequence in which Ray educates the junior high students in dinosaurs, existing only to make Ray seem intelligent (and for a lousy Paris Hilton reference). It’s incredibly forced and contrived, which is the best way to describe this film as a whole!
Credit to the actors for trying to make the material work. Triple H, a father himself, channels his parental instincts, doing his best to convey sorrow and remorse for his actions. He realizes his daughter wants nothing to do with him yet valiantly tries to connect with her anyway. Ariel Winter is fine as the disgruntled daughter, though it felt as if she wanted to be elsewhere at times. I couldn’t tell if her detachment was good acting or actual misery seeping through. Either way, it works for the character. Kevin Corrigan plays his usual shtick, the nebbish loser who has a tinge of intelligence to him, but squanders it at every turn. He always plays the role well, hence why he’s typecasted into it constantly.
The problem lies in both the script and direction of Stephen Herek. It’s so uninspired and dull, the opposite of what a comedy needs. Especially opposite of what a tender family drama needs, which is why the heartwarming moments never work. The direction is workmanlike and lazy, preventing any emotional connection or excitement to come from the proceedings. Ray’s drill sergeant approach to handling the students could have been an amusing way to play off of a PC world, but Herek has no intention of exploring this. It exists for two awkward situations in which Ray screams and the teacher, Miss Miller (Yeardley Smith), explains the severity of his actions. There’s no conflict as it’s resolved immediately. What’s the point?
No wonder I forgot all about “The Chaperone.” There’s nothing of note to remember about it. The premise of taking the musclebound wrestler and turning him into a kind soul is not only tired, but not even explored here. “Mr. Nanny” may be an objectively worse film than this, but at least it’s memorably so! “The Chaperone” was made for a quick buck and it shows.
I may or may not have written a review for this film five years ago. The time of this fim’s release would’ve been in between my stints of various film criticism around the web and my inclusion in the launch of the Freakin’ Awesome Network. My writing was sporadic during this period, so chances are I watched this film out of morbid curiosity one night with no intention of writing a review. Now I have written a review and, in five years time, I’ll be able to look back at this and remember just how terrible “The Chaperone” is! Let’s just hope I’m not asked to watch it once again in that time.
Final Rating: D+