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Dwayne Johnson's Best And Worst Movies

The highest-paid male star for two years running, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has starred in a number of widely beloved — and hugely successful — movies over the course of his acting career. Confounding expectations established by his past as a football player and wrestling star, Johnson's film projects have ranged widely, taking him across genres from family-friendly movies to action thrillers or comedies and everything in between.

Of course, no movie star has an unblemished track record. Just as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have had their fair share of misses, so too does Johnson. And as with his most acclaimed works, Johnson's most criticized features also span a variety of genres. With all that in mind, here's a look back at the five best and worst movies of Johnson's career. How many have you seen — and how many rank among your own personal favorites? It's hard to go wrong where the Rock is concerned, but read on to find out.

Best: Moana

In Moana, Johnson voices the demigod Maui, who proves to be an extremely helpful mentor to the film's title character. In another unique step for Johnson, it also gave him a chance to sing. "Dude, it was a big first step," he told USA Today. "I'll sing on a TV show. I'll break out the guitar and have fun with the (pro wrestling) audience. But the bar was raised so high. This is a Disney movie."

The stakes were high, but both Johnson and Moana rose to the challenge. Scoring a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was a critical hit, with Johnson's voice work earning particular acclaim. "Being one of the most charismatic people on the planet, Johnson charms with all the swagger you'd expect," praised Christy Lemiere of RogerEbert.com. "And he's also capable of toying with his tough-guy image as we've seen over the years." Bilge Ebiri of the Village Voice, meanwhile, praised how "[Maui] giving up so easily is often played by the film for laughs, but it's hard not to be moved by it, too; his self-loathing humanizes him... He's a marvelous creation, and the Rock voices him with an expert mix of bluster and pathos."

Though his work as Maui was a departure from his past roles in key ways, Dwayne Johnson's work in Moana deserves to rank among his most acclaimed performances. 

Worst: The Tooth Fairy

"The guy who once cracked vertebrae in the wrestling ring... is now hell-bent on becoming your kid's favorite film star," wrote Christine Spines of Entertainment Weekly about Dwayne Johnson in June 2008. In The Tooth Fairy, Johnson played a hockey player who is forced to work as a — you guessed it — tooth fairy after crushing the dreams of a child. He's headlined numerous kid's movies, but none as disastrous as this one.

"This silly story and barely there comedy is about as enjoyable as a root canal," said Claudia Paig of USA Today. Some critics offered a more measured, albeit still negative, assessment of the project. "For a bad, broad comedy, Tooth Fairy boasts a surprising number of positives. Which isn't to say that it's good, but it could be much, much worse," remarked Tasha Robinson of the A.V. Club.

In the years since Tooth Fairy, Johnson has returned to live-action family films for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, but otherwise, he's been firmly planted in the domain of PG-13 action films. However, that doesn't mean Tooth Fairy hasn't had any ripple effects on Johnson's later works. In fact, it introduced him to Stephen Merchant, who would go on to direct the Johnson-produced wrestling drama Fighting with my Family.

Best: Furious 7

Originally, it didn't look like Dwayne Johnson would be able to return for the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious franchise — scheduling conflicts with shooting Hercules appeared to be one obstacle he couldn't defeat. By October 2013, though, Johnson confirmed on Twitter that he would indeed be reprising his role of Luke Hobbs in Furious 7. Participating in the sequel turned out to be a wise move for him: Not only did Furious 7 garner the best reviews for a Fast & Furious movie, but it also became Johnson's second-most acclaimed feature ever, with an 82% Rotten Tomatoes score.

"Furious 7 is probably one of the most ridiculous non-stop action rides you'll see this year," opined Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider. "It's also probably one of the few action films which will also reduce you to tears by its end." Since Furious 7, Johnson's presence in the Fast & Furious franchise has only expanded. Not only did he appear in The Fate of the Furious, but he later headlined his own Furious spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw.

Worst: Doom

Video game movies don't have the best track record with critics, and Dwayne Johnson's 2005 Doom adaptation didn't buck that trend. Based on the video game series of the same name, Doom sees a group of soldiers, led by Asher "Sarge" Mahonin (Johnson), being sent to retrieve data from a recently attacked research facility on Mars. When they arrive, Mahonin and his team discover that monstrous creatures are running violently amuck on the planet. Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike co-star.

Doom opened in October 2005 to scorn from critics and longtime Doom fans alike. Achieving just a 19% critics score and 34% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Doom was described by Roger Ebert as being "like some kid came over and is using your computer and won't let you play." Ned Martel of the New York Times summarized Doom as a "claustrophobic mess of a movie [that] offers only carnage," while James Bernardelli of ReelViews referred to it as "a D-grade mess that's more a rip-off of Alien than an attempt to tell a compelling story."

In the years since its release, Johnson has joined in the chorus. "Not pointing to the scoreboard yet, but it seems we may have finally broken the dreaded video game curse," Johnson said on Twitter in April 2018 regarding early positive reviews for another of his game adaptations, Rampage. "And remember, I starred in the stinker Doom so I have lived the curse."

Best: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

"In the end, the filmmakers have given us one of the most fun movie-going experiences I've had this year," Bill Zwecker of Chicago Sun-Times said of Jumanji; Welcome to the Jungle. He wasn't the only critic to give positive marks to this 2017 feature following four teenagers who get sucked into the world of the game Jumanji and inhabit video game avatars that are the opposites of their real-world personalities. Johnson was tasked with playing Smolder Bravestone, a classical hunky hero figure now controlled by a dorky teenager.

Welcome to the Jungle scored a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and much of the praise centered around Johnson, particularly his ability to wring both charisma and comedy out of his performance. "If you're going to coast on charm," observed Katie Rife of the A.V. Club, "you could do a lot worse than Dwayne Johnson." Meanwhile, Amy Nicholson of Uproxx commended Johnson for doing " a fine job pretending to carry around a shy geek's fears."

Worst: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Paramount Pictures saw G.I. Joe: Retaliation as a chance to set a new course for the live-action G.I. Joe movies. "They wanted to do a reboot but not reboot because it was a sequel," Retaliation director Jon M. Chu told Superhero Hype. "A lot of people saw the first movie so we don't want to alienate that and redo the whole thing." Part of giving Retaliation its own identity was in hiring Dwayne Johnson to play the film's lead, a character named Roadblock.

A new cast and director couldn't make Retatliaion a hit with either critics or audiences — it earned lower critic and audience ratings than its predecessor, The Rise of Cobra. "It's massive, all the retaliation and the world saving stuff. And it's convoluted," Betsey Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times said of Retaliation's plot. "Frankly, no one should have to think that hard to keep up with the Joes."

While Dwayne Johnson has been dubbed "franchise viagra" by Uproxx for how he helped revive the Fast & Furious movies, he couldn't work that same magic with Retaliation. After this film, the G.I. Joe franchise went into a nearly decade-long slumber that's only being broken by the Snake Eyes standalone project. Unsurprisingly, Johnson has no involvement in that film — or any upcoming G.I. Joe projects.

Best: Fast Five

Dwayne Johnson wasn't supposed to be Luke Hobbs in Fast Five. The character, a federal officer tasked with bringing in Dominic Toretto and his "family," was originally set to be played by Tommy Lee Jones, an actor who has plenty of experience with tracking down fugitives onscreen. However, Johnson ended up being a key reason why Fast Five scored better reviews than past Fast & Furious installments. "How to re-ignite an ageing franchise?" Nick de Semlyen of Empire pondered. "Drop [Johnson] on it... Johnson hulks through the movie leaving testosterone trails in his wake." Meanwhile, Bruce Diones of the New Yorker praised Johnson for bringing "hip, comic knowingness to his role" and added, "his enjoyment is infectious and keeps the movie speeding along."

Even the film's detractors had positive things to say about Johnson. Catherine Bray of Film4 commended him for "[providing] a more credible anti-antagonist to our anti-heroes than the straight up villains can manage." Racing to a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Fast Five zoomed this franchise to new heights. With all due respect to Tommy Lee Jones, it's hard to imagine him giving the Fast & Furious series the same boost Dwayne Johnson did.

Worst: Be Cool

Ten years after Get Shorty grossed over $115 million at the box office, a sequel entitled Be Cool emerged. Directed by F. Gary Gray, Be Cool follows Chili Palmer (John Travolta) breaking into the music industry. In his exploits, he meets a barrage of colorful characters, including a bodyguard named Elliot, played by Dwayne Johnson. Despite the presence of such big names, the critical acclaim that greeted Get Shorty in 1995 failed to materialize for Be Cool.

This follow-up hit a sour note for critics, who wound up giving it a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times observed that actors like Johnson were "all stranded in a screenplay that never congeals, shifting from character to character while trying desperately to find some traction." Meanwhile, Roger Ebert felt that Johnson was miscast in the part. "To have the Rock play a gay narcissist is not funny," Ebert noted. "Because all we can think about is that the Rock is not a gay narcissist."

Even Gray has distanced himself from Be Cool."I made some assumptions in thinking that movie was going to work," he told Deadline. "When I walked into Be Cool, it was rated R and then at the last minute in preproduction I was told, 'Well, you have to make this PG-13.'" Whatever the reason for its critical derision, Be Cool ended up being one of the worst reviewed films in Johnson's filmography.

Best: Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence kicked off a series of collaborations for performers Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, telling the story of two former high school classmates, an athlete played by Hart and an overweight outcast played by Johnson. They reunite after 20 years apart, with the athlete now a mild-mannered accountant and the outcast a musclebound super-spy. Though Central Intelligence was widely criticized for not having the most original premise, it did manage to win over critics, many of whom were charmed by Johnson's comedic talents.

"The film has a firm grasp of Johnson's appeal as a leading man," observed Allison Willmore of Buzzfeed News. "He is Hollywood's most imposing ray of sunshine." Jordan Hoffman of the Guardian similarly praised Central Intelligence for "letting Johnson tap his natural sweet side to great effect." Meanwhile, Tom Huddleston of Time Out stated, "There's literally nothing unloveable about Johnson's performance — think peak-form John Candy trapped in the body of, well, the Rock." With a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Central Intelligence proved such a critically successful effort that it's no wonder Hart and Johnson have frequently reunited since.

Worst: Southland Tales

Director Richard Kelly's follow-up to Donnie DarkoSouthland Tales features a large ensemble cast that includes Dwayne Johnson as former action star Boxer Sarantos, who resides in an alternate future where World War III has turned America into a surveillance state. With plot twists involving space-time continuum rifts, the film's as brazenly weird as it is ambitious.

Unfortunately, it isn't critically acclaimed. After a disastrous Cannes Film Festival premiere that saw viewers booing, the film achieved only a 39% critics score and a 41% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Tom Long of the Detroit News summed up Southland Tales as "immature, crude, poorly made and a waste of time," while Deeson Thomson of the Washington Post declared it to be "exasperatingly convoluted, self-amused and politically sophomoric."

In recent years, Southland Tales has garnered positive re-appraisals, including a Vice article entitled "Southland Tales Was Exactly Ten Years Ahead of Its Time" and a Washington Post piece by Hau Chau that argues Tales is "a vehicle that could show off [Dwayne Johnson's] arsenal of classic and oddball acting talents." Johnson himself has even come to the film's defense. "Disastrous is an understatement. I'm grateful for the few hard earned career lessons I learned in Cannes in 2006," Johnson tweeted out in response to a Los Angeles Times piece referencing Southland Tales' Cannes premiere as "disastrous." "But," he added, "art can be a wild and funny thing years later as its perception changes its reality."