REVIEW: NBC's "Young Rock" Shows the Star-Studded Transformation of Dwayne Johnson
Last night was the series premiere of Young Rock, NBC's newest sitcom.
The comedic series follows the upbringing of its namesake, WWE legend and action movie juggernaut, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, through ages 10, 15, and 18.
It opens in the year 2032, when Johnson decides to run for President of the United States. In a sitdown interview with Randall Park, Johnson divulges intimate details about his life, including being the son of a wrestling pioneer, the late Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson.
Young Dwayne's (affectionately called Dewey) formative years see him surrounded by wrestling legends like The Iron Sheik and Andre The Giant, stealing clothes to impress his high school crush, and becoming an alpha male his first day on the football team at the University of Miami.
Johnson's comedic take on his real-life makes him even more endearing than he already is.
Celebrities tend to embellish the details of their lives for the sake of entertainment, but a 10-year-old Rock being a precocious smart alec has been confirmed by wrestling legends who knew him at that age.
One of the highlights of Young Rock is the spot-on casting. The actors playing Johnson at different periods resemble him tremendously if you've seen pictures of him during those times. But Johnson didn't just focus on aesthetically accurate castings for himself. Everyone, from his parents to the wrestlers mentioned, are mirror images of their real-life counterparts.
The show does a great job of satiating both fans of The Rock and fans of Dwayne Johnson. Those who were introduced to him through Vince McMahon and the WWE get to indulge in their wrestling fandom, with fictional cameos from wrestling greats and the usage of pro wrestling slang. They also get to hear untold stories that even the most die-hard fan probably wouldn't know about the People's Champ.
The people who know Johnson as a box-office behemoth and not the trash-talking former WWE champion get insight into what made him the hardworking business and family man he is today. His unconventional upbringing in the bizarre world of professional wrestling prepared him for the chaotic world of Hollywood long before it would become his main profession.
Unfortunately, the show isn't as perfect as its subject. There are moments where the lighthearted humor edges dangerously close to cheesy. The show could also do without Johnson's fictitious presidential campaign set 11 years into the future. It's meant to be a tongue-in-cheek dig at his supposed political aspirations, but it's an unnecessary distraction that doesn't add anything.
Still, Young Rock has the potential to become another celebrity coming-of-age hit like Everybody Hates Chris and Fresh Off the Boat. Its retelling of one individual's life at different ages in 30-minute episodes is ambitious. However, if each episode follows a formula similar to its premiere, then following along won't be a challenge for viewers.
Young Rock airs Tuesdays at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST on NBC.