The review of Young Rock, the new comedy from January 13 on Sky Series and NOW that tells the youth of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson through four temporal planes.
We can not help but smile writing the Young Rock review, the new comedy from 13 January on Sky Series, with all 11 episodes immediately available on demand, and streaming on NOW. This is because it is a series centered on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, first a wrestler then a movie star, famous for his kindness and generosity as well as for his muscles. An honest and passionate look at his growth and the path that led him to become one of the most influential celebrities in the world.
Young Rock was born from an idea of the same Rock together with Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chiang. Khan had already brought on TV Do not trust the bitch of the interior 23 and Fresh Off the Boat, the latter a family comedy that told the childhood of Eddie Huang in the 90s, obviously fictionalized and revisited and that for this had also received criticism. This time around, The Rock himself is involved from the very beginning of the project, serving as a narrator of the future along with a newfound Randall Park from Fresh Off the Boat. Both play an over the top version of themselves: in 2032, Dwayne Johnson, candidate for president of the United States of America, reflects on his youth, recounting the moments that shaped him and remembering the most important people in his life to Randall Park – former actor as he is keen to remark several times, now reinvented himself as a journalist. The meta-TV game, complete with room winks, is therefore just around the corner, and is an added factor in this show-on-show, which is a sort of fictional documentary with Johnson being interviewed in first person by Park.
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Four floors of comedy
In the spirit of other similar comedies divided between past and present / future, here we even have three timelines to follow in the past, because we have chosen to explore three important moments of Johnson’s youth. A little The Rock at 10, played by Adrian Groulx, still naive and full of hopes for the world out there; Johnson at 15, played by Bradley Constant, whom everyone believes is an undercover agent because he is already very developed and even has a mustache; and finally Johnson at 18-20, played by Uli Latukefu, when at university he immediately made himself noticed in the gym and in the locker room for his physical prowess … almost recommended by his father, Rocky Johnson, famous wrestler, with the face and muscles by Joseph Lee Anderson. The four narrative planes – including the present / future – continually jump from one to the other, and the skill of the screenwriters lies in connecting the various stories and the various “progress” that the young Johnson makes in becoming an adult with a theme. It is a coming of age after all that plays on the popularity of The Rock on the one hand and on his knowing how to make fun of himself on the other, without forgetting the importance for him of his origins and his family, for which he tried to do everything possible once he became famous (as in the pilot where his teenager buys a super-used car not only for himself but also for his mother).
Just like in Fresh Off the Boat, the tradition “brought” to America by the protagonist family is important: if there was the Chinese-Taiwanese one, this is the Samoan origins of the Johnson; while the comedy maintains a certain nastiness of the bitch of Interior 23, like the cynical fate in the first episode of the squatter of the used car Dwayne just bought. From the perspective of tradition, the characters of the matriarchal branch of the family are very important: the mother Ata Johnson, played by Stacey Leilua and her grandmother Lia Maivia, played by Ana Tuisila, the first female manager in a purely male world. Dwayne then has to deal with the responsibility of being a future wrestler (but he didn’t know it yet, of course) of the third generation. Precisely because of the family structure, some real professional wrestlers also participate in the story such as André the Giant, with the face and muscles of Matthew Willig, The Iron Sheik (Brett Azar), Junkyard Dog (Nate Jackson) and the twins Sika and Afa Anoa ‘the nicknamed “The Wild Samoans” (played by Fasitua Amosa and John Tui). All personalities who have enriched the formation of the protagonist and at the same time manage to enrich and create typical characters in the show.
At the end of our review of Young Rock we can say how this coming of age comedy picks up well the legacy of Nahnatchka Khan’s previous works by telling the youth of The Rock in a funny and meta-television way, without forgetting his Samoan heritage and the four floors. time of the story, enriched by the members of the protagonist’s family.
Because we like it
- The idea of the four time planes to be combined with a theme and a colorful vintage effect that jokes about itself.
- The many aspects of the comic tale – the Samoan heritage, the familiar aspect, the Bildungsroman.
- Dwayne Johnson’s charisma and self-irony.
- The many elements put in place risk confusing the less savvy viewer.