This film is quite predictable, formulaic, and far from original, yet it is well-meaning, inspirational, and I actually sorta liked it. It's flawed enough to where I don't feel quite comfortable enough to give it an extra half star, but I did enjoy it, and think that there are a few scenes that are okay enough to watch. So, in a rare move, I don't totally recommend the film, but I think it would be okay to watch if you rent it or something, like if you feel you need or just really want to see it.
The story here is that of the classic underdog. Cal is a runt whose father and brother were local wrestling gods, but he is not wrestling material. He feels he has something to prove though, so he tries to follow in his family's footsteps, and in the process tries to better his life, come of age, and get his estranged family back together. This is total Hallmark stuff, but I do applaud WWE Films for making somehting not related to the horror or action genres.
Graye is actually not bad as Cal. He's a convincing underdog. As Cal's brother Mike, John Cena brings some authenticity to the proceedings, despite his stiff acting and limited emotional range. Danny Glover is underused but it's nice to see him, even though his characters seems more like an angel than a human. Surprisingly though, it is Patricia Clarkson who really holds thigns together. She brings some needed weight and gravitas to things, even if she's put in better work elsewhere. Even though I think the character of Luli was mishandled and awkward, I don't totally blame Madeleine Martin. She's not great, but she's trying, and she seems like a nice and quirky girl, so there.
Like I said, this film is nothing new, but I was never bored. The wrestling scenes are well done and you can tell they put effort into bringing some realism and integrity to their portrayal. For this to be a great movie it just also needed a better script and some stronger performances. It will please most viewers though, I'm sure. It's relatively inoffensive, has a lot of heart, and there are a couple of scenes I really liked.
As Siskel and Ebert would sometimes do, I'm giving this a rare "thumbs sideways" because I'm just torn about it, and can't think of a better way to judge it.