Review: WWE kids’ movie on Netflix suplexes itself


Do you love the smell of a musty leather mask locked in a box for decades, likely steeped in mystery perspiration? Does it smell like victory?

In “The Main Event,” a WWE Studios exercise for kids on Netflix, an 11-year-old wrestling fanatic discovers a pungent luchador mask. So of course he puts it on. And as these things tend to be, it’s magic. Mom has split, Dad is emotionally distant, Grandma is fun, and the kid, Leo (Seth Carr), now has the tool he needs to turn the tables on the school bullies and win a pro-wrestling tournament against adults.

This reviewer assembled a crack team to expertly sniff out the truth of “The Main Event”: two kids the age of the movie’s protagonist. It didn’t pass their smell test.


Predictability in plot and dialogue were their principal complaints. When a pretty girl appeared across the cafeteria, one groaned, “the love interest.” When Leo donned the mask to thrash a robber, the other sighed, “So he’s a vigilante now?”

What turned them off the most was the same thing that lost this reviewer: Leo’s failure to come through for other people. It looks to be set up for young Leo to learn “With great power comes great responsibility,” but … naaah.

Instead we get might-makes-right scenarios and unearned forgiveness. Not exactly what you want to teach kids. When Leo’s being pursued by the bully squad on bikes, he zips behind a car that’s backing up. That shout you just heard was every parent: “Hey, no, that’s bad! Don’t do what he did!”

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The thing you’d think my middle-school movie mavens would be most geared to enjoy — the cartoonish violence (a scrawny 11-year-old beating up 300-plus-pound behemoths) — left them unmoved.

On the bright side, the cast is diverse and some combatants are entertainingly costumed. One looks like a villager who came straight from a Bavarian rave and is still tripping hard. His dance across this movie’s mortal coil, however, is all too fleeting. Kind of like life. Oh, and there’s a rap on the soundtrack that sounds as if it’s extolling the virtues of ham?

Anyway, WWE Studios has churned out a cage-rattling number of features since 2002 (right around 60), not all of them bad. But they didn’t seem to put much effort into this one. The filmmakers cast several comic performers — Adam Pally as the dad, Tichina Arnold as the grandmother, Ken Marino as the bad guy — but there aren’t really opportunities for them to shine. Arnold seems to have the most fun with it.

“The Main Event,” sadly, never gets off the mat.

‘The Main Event’

Rated: TV-G for violence (pro-wrestling-style violence)

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Playing: Available on Netflix


Trailer for the WWE Studios/Netflix kids’ film “The Main Event” (2020)

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March 18, 2020