Walking Tall

Release Date: April 2, 2004

I *do* smell what the Rock is cooking!

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Position Staff In Brief
37/92 David Mumpower The Rock takes a significant step back after The Rundown.
71/126 Kim Hollis I like The Rock. I like Johnny Knoxville. I like Neal McDonough. It was hard not to like this film.

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Say what you will about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the man knows how to choose roles. Although one can certainly see him at some future point, deciding to “stretch” himself as an actor, for now, The Rock is wise enough to take roles that play to his strengths without pushing his limited acting chops too much. And this remake of the ‘70s vigilante classic is right up The Rock’s alley.

The original Walking Tall was based on the real-life trials and tribulations of Buford Pusser, a young man from a small town who tries to make his way in the big city - ironically, as a wrestler - but finds too much corruption for his taste. He returns to his hometown only to find the corruption has seeped into this Norman Rockwell community, and Buford decides to clean up his beloved birthplace by becoming the new sheriff, with no-nonsense approach and taking literally Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition to “carry a big stick.”

Buford Pusser, as personified in the first movie by Joe Don Baker - who reportedly bore an uncanny resemblance to the real-life Pusser - and later in two less-than-stellar sequels by Bo Svenson, was the archetypal common man pushed beyond his limits, and audiences cheered the iconoclastic hero with the back-to-basics approach to law enforcement. This remake takes the basics of Pusser’s story - disillusioned native son returns to restore dignity and righteousness via skillfully-employed violence - and updates it slightly, creating an even more fictionalized version of the actual events. The lead character also, thankfully, undergoes a name change. The Rock kicks ass and takes names under the moniker of Chris Vaughn, a former Special Forces operative who liberates the denizens of his birthplace from the corrupt influence of a former high-school chum who has brought the evils of gambling and drugs to this pristine environment. There will, of course, be lots of fight scenes, punctuated with pontifications on how the good people must take back their streets, their lives, and their dignity by standing up to the wicked, dissolute owner of the only industry in town, despite the fact that said evil corrupter of the innocent also happens to provide the only gainful employment available. Of course, good will triumph in the end, vanquishing evil with the help of a very big slab of wood and some spectacular stunts.
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Simplistic as it all sounds, Walking Tall has a good shot at tapping into the non-politically correct instincts we all have to see the bad guys get their comeuppance in good, old-fashioned frontier justice ways. And The Rock definitely has the kind of screen presence to make the whippin’ not only viscerally enjoyable but morally acceptable. He exudes a kind of upright charm, if you will; there’s a kind of Arthurian might-for-right aura about the man’s screen presence that turns what sounds like a black-and-white morality tale of the dispensing of frontier justice into a cracking good bit of entertainment for a 21st century audience. Walking Tall should be another strong stone in the foundation The Rock has been building in a promising career as an action hero of first-drawer status. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)

Vital statistics for Walking Tall
Main Cast Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott, John Beasley, Barbara Tarbuck
Supporting Cast Kristen Wilson, Khleo Thomas, Michael Bowen, Johnny Knoxville, Ryan Robbins, Michael Soltis, Aaron Douglas
Director Kevin Bray
Screenwriter David Klass, Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Peter Berg
Distributor MGM
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.walkingtallmovie.com/
Rating PG-13
Running Time 80 minutes
Screen Count 2,836
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Walking Tall
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Scorpion King, The 4/19/0236.08 37.51 3444 10475.00 10475.0 90.34 93.92 2.50
All About the Benjamins 3/8/0210.13 10.53 1505 6731.00 6731.0 25.48 26.49 2.52
Carlito's Way 11/12/939.12 13.28 1615 5647.00 7911.3 36.52 53.19 4.00
Gangs of New York 12/20/029.12 9.48 1504 6051.00 6051.0 77.73 80.81 8.52



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