A drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, who had a once-in-a-lifetime bout with Muhammad Ali that would inspire the film Rocky (1976).A drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, who had a once-in-a-lifetime bout with Muhammad Ali that would inspire the film Rocky (1976).A drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, who had a once-in-a-lifetime bout with Muhammad Ali that would inspire the film Rocky (1976).
Chuck's life changed forever in 1975. After Muhammad Ali took the world heavyweight title from George Foreman in the fight known as "the Rumble in the Jungle", Ali said he wanted to fight "a white guy". Since Chuck was the only white guy among the top 10 ranked heavyweight boxers in the world, his manager (Ron Perlman) took care of the details and Chuck Wepner, little known outside of New Jersey, got a shot at the title. For this first time in his career, he trained full time for this fight which took place near Cleveland, OH. Chuck's performance against Ali (Pooch Hall) increased his celebrity greatly. Then he became even more famous the following year when the new movie "Rocky" seemed to mirror his life, especially regarding the Ali fight. As Chuck tried to take advantage of being the guy who inspired the 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner by reaching out to Sylvester Stallone himself, Chuck was also increasing his selfish behaviors, using cocaine and pursuing even more women, including a local bartender named Linda (Naomi Watts), who didn't want anything to do with him a sentiment now shared by Phyliss.
"Chuck" is a very entertaining and long-overdue movie. Chuck Wepner's story is indeed the stuff of Hollywood – in the "Rocky" movies – and in this movie which reveals Chuck's story to be as interesting as Rocky's. This film had four writers whose combined efforts really do the story justice. They are Jeff Feuerzeig (known mainly for writing and directing documentaries including "The Real Rocky" for ESPN), Jerry Stahl (mainly a TV show writer, he also wrote 2003's "Bad Boys II"), Michael Cristofer ("Original Sin", "Bonfire of the Vanities", "The Witches of Eastwick") and Live Schreiber, who, besides being the film's star and co-writer, also helped produce. The screenplay focuses on the drama, but has an effective and organic humor about it. In the hands of director Philippe Falardeau (who directed Reese Witherspoon's 2014 film "The Good Lie"), and in the practically perfect performance of Schreiber, this film portrays the most eventful decade of Chuck's life without judgment, showing his highs and his lows, and never loses sight of his humanity. Another quote from the movie sums it up nicely: "Sometimes life is like a movie. And sometimes it's better." This film is better than most. "A-"
- May 20, 2017