The lackluster computer-animated film “Rumble” revolves around what should be a rambunctious high concept: hulking monsters, living peacefully among humans, battle like professional wrestlers. Armed with human trainers and cheered on by ardent fans of the hometown, these fantastical creatures ascend to sports superstars.
The story is set in a wrestling-obsessed town called Stoker, where tenacious teen Winnie (voiced by Geraldine Viswanathan) vows to fill the void left by her late father, a famous coach, and his title-holding titan, Rayburn. Looking for a new contender to represent the city, she sees promise in chubby, horned Steve (Will Arnett), an amateur who has built his career on losing regular matches. He also happens to be Rayburn’s son.
Bicycling through daddy issues, lazy pranks and workout montages, Winnie and Steve rise to reclaim their fathers’ glory. But while their purpose is clear enough, the director, Hamish Grieve, leaves their identities only half-formed. Spunk and moxie define Winnie, but for a central character, her thoughts, feelings, and interests beyond motivating her rambunctious new boyfriend are not. And once Steve reveals that his true passion isn’t wrestling but salsa dancing, it’s a miracle he doesn’t give up the game of Goliath and instead joins a dance troupe.
Visual jokes are few and far between for such a tactile aesthetic, and of the film’s WWE references, a fleeting cameo of Michael Buffer as the announcer is the only one that resonates. Little inspiration and creative juice, “Rumble” would love to bring the house down, but hardly causes a shake.
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. Look at Paramount+.