Rumble is a 2021 American computer-animated sports comedy film directed by Hamish Grieve. Loosely based on Monster on the Hill, a graphic novel by Rob Harrell, the film stars the voices of Will Arnett, Geraldine Viswanathan, Terry Crews, Stephen A. Smith, Jimmy Tatro, Tony Danza, Susan Kelechi Watson, Tony Shalhoub, Bridget Everett, Greta Lee, Ben Schwartz, Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch.
Produced by Paramount Animation, WWE Studios, Walden Media, and Reel FX Animation Studios, the film was released in the United States on December 15, 2021, on Paramount+.
In a world where giant monsters are super athletes and compete in popular professional wrestling global sport, monster wrestling, teenage Winnie (Geraldine Viswanathan) seeks to follow in her father's footsteps as a manager by coaching a lovable underdog yet-inexperienced monster (Will Arnett) into a champion so that he can go up against the reigning champion Tentacular (Terry Crews) in order to restore the city of Stoker to its glory.
- Hypocrisy: The film teaches children that they do not have to follow in the footsteps of other people and that they are free to carve their own path in life, which is what Rayburn “Steve” Jr did in the film. However, Tentacular also tried to distance himself from Rayburn and carve his own path and the movie portrayed his attempt as bad as his decision to move from Stoker to Slitherpoole caused his own fans to turn on him.
- The hypocrisy goes even further with this moral as while Steve tried to distance himself from his dad and prove to stoker that he is his own person who does not need his dad to gain fame in life, the town of stoker including the news announcers treat him very badly as they berate and hate on him for using unconventional wrestling moves and they immediately go to liking him for being the son of Rayburn when they find out about his heritage.
- The film teaches a bad moral to children: moving away from your hometown is wrong, especially if you’re an athlete as shown by Tentacular’s decision to move yet portraying his desire as wrong. However, the movie ignores the fact that many athletes such as football players move to other towns all the time as football players, in particular, do it because they move to other teams.
- The world-building in this film is almost non-existent as the film begins with a massive exposition dump as to how monster wrestling came to be and does not fully elaborate on it.
- The animation, while good, is rough in several moments of the film as several of the human character’s mouths look to be in poorer resolution than the rest of their bodies.
- Does a poor job on adapting from its source material of the book, Monster On The Hill with the examples of how badly different and unrecognizable the film is from the graphic novel listed below
- The biggest problem with this film is that it miscast Tentacular into being the main antagonist when he did not have that kind of role in the graphic novel. It turned him from a kind old friend of Rayburn’s who was obsessed with giving hugs to people to a self-absorbed money-obsessed wrestler who wants to tear down a stadium for no thoroughly explained reason other than the fact that he does not want to follow in Rayburn’s footsteps. The book revealed that Tentacular’s real name is Noodles but the film never refers to Tentacular as Noodles at all. Tentacular’s name is also spelled incorrectly as the graphic novel spells his name as “Tentaculor”.
- In addition Tentacular’s role as the villain in the movie is forced as the source material never portrayed the character as the villain as that role was given to a monster called The Murk but The Murk never appears in this film at all.
- The town of Stoker On Avon is vastly different from how it is portrayed in the graphic novel. While the book portrayed it as a British Victorian-era town, the film jumps it to the modern era. While that is not a bad thing, the Stoker that is seen in the film does not have anything British in it at all. The only British reference the film makes is through the wrestler King Gorge.
- Jimothy Brett-Chatley III is supposedly based on Timothy but in the graphic novel, Timothy is a kind young orphaned street urchin from Stoker who wants to be loved and adopted. Here Jimothy is just a spoiled rich boy from Slitherpoole who gets forgotten about near the end of the film. It does not help that his name is wrong with the first letter.
- Charles Wilkie, the eccentric inventor and monster psychiatrist from the graphic novel does not make an appearance in this film and he is the main protagonist of the graphic novel. He is haphazardly replaced by Winnie in the film.
- Slitherpoole is never seen or mentioned in the graphic novel and in it, Tentaculor did not represent Stoker nor Slitherpoole even though he went to Stoker to save it from The Murk. Tentaculor was actually the monster who represented the town of Billingwood in the novel. Slitherpoole also sounds lazy as it sounds too much like Slytherin from the Harry Potter franchise.
- It tries way too hard to make Tentacular unlikable and despicable, but these attempts fail for several reasons. First off, the writers made Tentacular bioluminescent, which automatically made Tentacular look too cool. Secondly, Tentacular was shown to move from Stoker to pursue money and fame, yet Tentacular’s luxuries and living area aren't shown. Then, when Steve is set to fight King Gorge in a match, it is revealed that Gorge was traumatized from his match against Tentacular that he refuses to fight Steve. That scene was apparently put in to show Tentacular as vicious and bad, but instead, it makes King Gorge look pathetic as it was shown that Tentacular beat King Gorge only because Winnie helped him win by exploiting Gorge’s weakness and before that Tentacular was being pummelled by Gorge during the match. The bioluminescence of Tentacular was a selling point of the film as shown in the trailer but turning Tentacular into a villain made his bioluminescence pointless.
- The movie’s pacing is horrible as it feels very rushed with a runtime of 95 minutes, which prevents a lot of opportunities for character development and a more fleshed-out story.
- The writing in this film is very lazy as it chooses to do a lot of exposition dumps, drops several key plot points abruptly, and it is written as if the writers never actually bothered to read the source material and only copied some of the names from the book.
- Winnie is an unlikeable protagonist as she not only causes the events of the film by interfering with a public match but she also fails to acknowledge her own faults and places Steve in a very bad situation. She never acknowledges her faults and is shown to be very bossy to Steve during his training, immediately placing him in a match when he slouches on his training. Winnie is also depicted as a Mary Sue as she is immediately shown to be good at coaching with the only mention of experience coming from her father and she turns Steve from a match thrower to a champion in just a couple of months. Winnie also does not have a counterpart character from “Monster On The Hill” to be based on as she was made exclusively just for this movie.
- Plot Hole: The beginning of the film reveals that Winnie’s father and Rayburn Sr became lost at sea. The problem with this revelation is that Rayburn Sr is a giant monster and given his giant size he could have easily been seen in the water as shown through other kaiju movies. The movie also never explains how Winnie and Steve’s fathers became lost at sea.
- The living conditions of most of the monsters are never shown as the film never explains how monsters could do basic things like spend money or be able to live in a house. The only monster whose living conditions were shown was King Gorge’s.
- The plot of the film is significantly clichéd as it is derivative of many other sports movies including Rocky and Real Steel. This makes the plot and character development very predictable and unoriginal.
- For example of such a ripoff of other underdog sports movies, the scene of Steve and Tentacular arguing near the statue of Winnie’s father is highly derivative of the the first confrontation between Rocky and Clubber Lang in Rocky III.
- The subplot where Steve’s life is put at risk unless he pays the owner of an illegal monster fighting slum a ton of money is highly unfocused and was almost forgotten until after Steve’s first confrontation with Tentacular.
- There are several one-dimensional characters in this film such as a tattoo-covered man whose only quirks are sulking over Tentacular’s departure and putting tattoos on himself. There is also a diner owner who is completely useless in the film and does not contribute to anything in the plot, only seeming to exist just to be a friend of Winnie’s. There is also a financial agent who is unfunny with the jokes surrounding her focusing on her use of bro speak and only serves as exposition for what is going to happen to Stoker stadium.
- By including a character covered in tattoos in a kids' movie and having him get even more real tattoos throughout, the film is basically encouraging kids to visit tattoo parlors to get real tattoos, which should be a huge concern for viewing parents.
- On the matter concerning the more fleshed-out characters, these characters experience a lot of half-baked and rushed character development that is predictable and many of them fail to acknowledge their own faults. Winnie does not acknowledge that the conflict in the film is partially her fault because she interferes with Tentacular’s match and told him how to win. She even repeated this mistake again when she interferes with Steve’s staged match and accidentally caused him to win a fight he was supposed to lose, which puts his life at risk. Steve was shown as he lost his father, Rayburn but his grief is never fully elaborated, making his transition from a happy kid in flashbacks to a depressed man look very jarring.
- The other villains of the movie such as Jimothy and the people who convinced Tentacular to abandon Stoker are basically forgotten and get off scot-free with their actions while Tentacular receives full blame and loses his championship belt as karma.
- The villain scheme of tearing down Stoker stadium to make way for a parking lot is not only a cliched villain scheme but the scheme was lazily written due to juggling who was truly in charge of the scheme It was elaborated that Tentacular’s agent, Jimothy Brett-Chatley III orchestrated it but the film suddenly makes Tentacular look like the mastermind by having him make a bet to Steve where if Steve beats him then the stadium would be left alone. It was also said that the town of Stoker had 90 days to get enough money to pay Slitherpoole off and get a new monster to represent them but that plot point was suddenly dropped for the sake of having Steve face Tentacular for the first time.
- The movie has trouble deciding who the main antagonist of the film is as it gives that role to the wrong character. Given that Jimothy was the one who masterminded the scheme of tearing down Stoker stadium, that basically makes Jimothy the main antagonist of the film but instead, that role is suddenly given to Tentacular
- There was an opportunity that the film blew to teach kids a lesson on why hero worship is bad and should not be done because it can lead to disappointment. This is done with the town of Stoker obsessing over Tentacular and then turning on him after his departure. The townsfolk never learn a lesson about hero worship and instead proceed to idolize Steve.
- The movie teaches another bad moral that is potentially dangerous to kids: interfering with public sports matches is okay. This is shown when Winnie interferes with the Tentacular and King Gorge match to tell Tentacular about Gorge’s weakness yet the security is never shown trying to stop Winnie and nobody calls Winnie out when her interference causes the plot of the film, which could have been avoided if Winnie decided to stay in her seat. In real life, interfering with public sports matches if you’re a fan could get you arrested by the police and/or banned from the stadium depending on how the interference was carried out.
- There is a massive lack of backstory for the characters in this movie. First off, the film failed to elaborate on the relationship Steve had with his father Rayburn and Tentacular’s backstory is never explored to explain why he hates Rayburn. Also, Steve’s mother is never mentioned in the film and it is never explained how the accident where Rayburn and his trainer got lost in sea occurred.
- False Advertising: Speaking of backstories, the first trailer for the movie implied that Tentacular did have a backstory as the tattoo-covered guy had tattoos that told Tentacular’s life story all over him but the actual film never revealed Tentacular’s backstory. This indicates that the writers did have a backstory planned for Tentacular but for some reason opted not to show it and instead used it as part of a character design, which is the laziest way to do a character backstory that only serves to confuse the audience.
- Another incident of false advertising occurs through many trailers that indicate the hat Steve will have a wrestling match against King Gorge. However, the movie shows Winnie trying to set Steve up for such a match only for King Gorge’s trainer to refuse to go along with it due to Gorge’s state of mind from his tentacular match.
- The film relies Way too much on exposition with it initially beginning with the two-minute history info dump on monster wrestling and Stoker’s history and then having several characters voice out what is going on in the plot. We then have Tentacular admit that he wants to bring down Stoker stadium out of envy towards Rayburn Sr but we do not see any interactions between Tentacular and Rayburn Sr and Tentacular showed up out of the blue in the film, making his envy and motivations feel contrived and coming out of nowhere.
- Most of the jokes in the film are unfunny and lame and they mostly revolve around laziness and wrestling.
- One of the lamest jokes happens near the end of the movie in which Tentacular throws a human-sized folding chair (we kid you not) at Steve, only for the chair to miss and accidentally hit an audience member.
- For a movie that features kids losing their fathers, it lacks emotional and compelling moments due to having Winnie’s father and Rayburn appear only in flashbacks with only minimal and brief scenes.
- There are a lot of unlikable characters in this film. While the film tries to depict Slitherpoole as a corrupt, greedy, and completely evil city, most of the citizens of Stoker On Avon are shown to be almost no better. Many of the townspeople of stoker, which include both humans and monsters are shown to be either self-centered, rude, hypocritical, annoying, corrupt, and/or having a complete lack of common sense and rationality and an inability to learn lessons and learn from their mistakes. They boo anybody who does not represent Stoker and put anyone who does on a pedestal to the point where they idolize them like gods
- Even worse is that the film does not make any effort to indicate Slitherpoole as an evil city, only choosing to portray it as a gloomy and rainy dystopian style city with bland coloring all over it while Stoker is portrayed as shabby but sunny and positive all the time, which is just a very lazy way to indicate town morality.
- As the film was produced by WWE, the whole movie feels like a desperate attempt by WWE to draw in more people especially children into their culture and turn them into fans of WWE. By being completely unfaithful to the original source material and turning many of its characters into examples of common WWE gimmicks (for example, adapting Tentacular by removing all of his positive traits and reducing him to the role of the “heel”). This makes the whole film look like complete WWE propaganda.
- Xenophobia and disrespect towards the country of England are seemingly promoted in this movie as when King Gorge is introduced in his match against Tentacular, he immediately gets booed by the audience while he displays stereotypical British behavior such as drinking tea and being snobbish. His name is also based on the king of England who ruled during the Revolutionary War and was unpopular to American citizens. This is not only offensive to British viewers of the film but also disrespects the British roots and setting of “Monster On The Hill” as Stoker is shown to be a British Victorian-era town in the novel.
- The film’s marketing is abysmal as it did not show many trailers between its first announcement and its release. While part of it can be attributed to the Covid pandemic, the marketing was still bad as it was announced at the beginning of January 2021 that the movie would be delayed for a theatrical release in February 2022 but Paramount Pictures suddenly backtracks on this to have it released in December 2021 as a Paramount+ exclusive film and dropping the planned theatrical release altogether. To make matters worse, the film itself shows many souvenirs of Tentacular being purchased but real-life replicas of these souvenirs were never made aside from small plushies bought online alongside a few other characters.
- The film uses the overused “sharks are evil” stereotype by having Tentacular look like a shark and then portraying him as a villain. This cliche has been used excessively since the 1970s, which is unrealistic since in reality sharks are part of a healthy ecosystem yet they have been exploited more by humans. This film uses it when movies today are starting to depict sharks as multidimensional beings as shown in The Suicide Squad and The Bad Guys with Nanaue and Mr. Shark respectively.
- Toxic fandom and celebrity harassment by fans is seemingly encouraged in this film instead of elaborating on the problems with these issues. That is shown with the citizens of Stoker engaging in toxic behavior such as booing King Gorge and Tentacular and pelting them with junk and food and being depicted as in the right for it. They also harassed Steve for using dance moves in the wrestling matches and did not receive any repercussions for it
- Executive Meddling: Such meddling is very apparent in the final product of this film. First, there is the initial decision to delay the film to February 2022 only for Paramount to take the delay back and pull the film from theatrical release to have it air on Paramount Plus in time for Christmas. Then there was the fact that WWE was involved in the film with them apparently forcing writers to reduce the characters from the source material to wrestler archetypes.
- Sequel Baiting: The film has a post credits scene that include Steve slouching around in his gymnasium while Winnie wakes him up and tells him to continue training so he could prepare for his next match. This hints that the film will have a sequel, which will most likely not happen due to film’s negative reception, obscurity, and lack of marketing.
- The animation is colorful and beautiful to look at, considering that it was made by Reel FX Animation Studios.
- To be fair, the movie did go through a troubled production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many of the writers and animators to work from home. That somewhat explains the low quality of the film.
- The kaiju designs are quite impressive.
- The voice acting is decent, especially Will Arnett.
- Decent soundtrack by Lorne Balfe.
- There are a few likable characters, including Tentacular (ironically) and Steve.
Rumble received mixed to negative reviews from critics with common criticisms attained towards the film’s writing, characters, and pacing. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 29% of 7 reviews are positive. On Metacritic, the score is 43 based on 4 reviews. The movie currently has a score of 5.9 out of 10 on IMDb.
- The film was dedicated to Craig Grasso, a storyboard artist on the film, who died in 2019.
- The scene where Steve gets out and does a T-pose spawned internet memes.