It’s a classic Hollywood story at this point: professional wrestling superstar rises to fame and prominence before dabbling in a potential acting career that eventually explodes making him or her a household name beyond wrestling fandom. No, we’re not talking about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or even his contemporary Dave Bautista. The man who eventually became the face of the modern WWE, John Cena, has made a splash in Hollywood and he doesn’t seem to be quitting any time soon with several projects currently in the pipeline.
Cena may not be a true thespian, but his charisma is unmistakable. Aside from his physique and athletic nature making him an ideal candidate for film franchises like The Fast and Furious, Cena actually offers more depth than the muscle-bound bravado you might expect from him. While he takes the spotlight in major films and TV series like The Suicide Squad, Fast Xand Peacemakersome of Cena’s best work has flown under the radar.
There are a few major players in the big-budget animation arena. Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination all come to mind. From time to time, however, smaller outfits like Blue Sky Studios (originally under the 20th Century Fox banner) produced fun animated family features like Ice Age, Rioand Spies in Disguise. However, Ferdinand might not be one of their more instantly recognizable properties as the film never received a sequel. John Cena lent his voice to the titular bovine character, Ferdinand.
The film tells the story of price-winning bulls who compete in major bullfighting competitions. Ferdinand, despite his hulking stature, is a rather docile creature. He longs to enjoy the world around him instead of engaging in the competitive aggression that fuels other prize-winning bulls. Out on the farm, things aren’t so hunky-dory as the bulls and livestock all live in fear of the slaughterhouse. It’s the endgame for those animals who have seemingly lived out their usefulness. Ferdinand and his pals do everything they can to protect the animals on the farm. It’s a rousing family film full of heart and humor. Cena’s Ferdinand is loveable and heroic, which is everything you’d want in a title character of an animated adventure.
Ferdinand can be streamed on Disney+.
Vacation Friends (2021)
Exclusively on Hulu, Vacation Friends offers a fun ride rife with comedy. The film follows Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and his fiancé Emily (Yvonne Orji) as they vacation in Mexico where they meet an eccentric couple Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner). Marcus is your run-of-the-mill soon-to-be son-in-law vying for the approval of Emily’s father while remaining comfortable in his structured personality and living in rigidity. Ron and Kyla, on the other hand, are a pair of free-spirited thrill-seekers. The two couples quickly connect only for one night to turn into a total black-out scenario Hangover style.
Marcus is wary of Ron and Kyla’s fast-and-loose personalities. Fast forward to Marcus and Emily’s wedding months later where we see Ron and Kyla crash the wedding. Marcus clashes with Ron despite his friendly overtures and things take a wild turn. Vacation Friends takes advantage of Cena’s penchant for inducing laughter ultimately resulting in a fun R-rated comedy. That’s right, this one’s only for the adults in the room.
Vacation Friends can be streamed on Hulu.
The Independent (2022)
Imagine John Cena starring in a political thriller. Actually, there’s no imagination required. The Independent puts the famed wrestler in that particular role. In a world where Cena is known for his wit or tough-guy action-hero persona, suiting up as a Presidential candidate is something quite different for the leading man entirely.
The film primarily focuses on Elisha “Eli” James (Jodie-Turner-Smith) whose work as a reporter bares conspiratorial fruit amid a high-stakes United States Presidential election season. While the Democratic incumbent, Republican frontrunner, and the notorious Independent, Nate Sterling (John Cena), clash on the public stage, Eli and her cohort, Nick Booker (Succession‘s Brian Cox) uncover an embezzlement scheme surrounding one of the major candidates.
The film deals with the cutthroat world of public perception and political division. We live in an era where most are exhausted by the persistent cycle of politicians who never seem to truly upset the establishment. The Independent tackles the idea of a first-time female president or the potential for an Independent candidate to actually win the election putting the two-party system into question. These are interesting themes that all surround an engaging corruption scandal – the very ingredients of a superb thriller.
The Independent can be rented or purchased on Prime Video and other digital vendors.