No, I’m not reviewing the once great television series starring Zachary Levi, I’m reviewing the movie (which you can only see at Cinemark West Plano right now), CHUCK, starring Ray Donovan’s Liev Schreiber about boxer Chuck Wepner, who was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone writing Rocky which won a shit load of rewards. Chuck was a okay boxer, known mainly for almost going a full 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali back in 1975 (we get to see this fight, which is one of the highlights of the film). As far as sports biographical pics go, it is harmless, not being great, but definitely not being bad, too long, or boring either. If you are a sports biographical pic, and you are neither great nor bad, you kind of get lost in the crowd.
Which is what will happen with this film for me. I’d say in a couple of years I will hardly remember it other than I thought it was a good one time watch with a stellar performance by Schreiber. I have a feeling though an extra 30 minutes that seemed to be missing from this film could’ve gone either way. It could’ve made it too long and boring and not added much to the film, or it could’ve made the film more in-depth, better, with more amounts of character development. I don’t know unless I see this 30 minutes. Not to say the film was edited badly, but the movie is only an hour and 40 minutes, which for a biographical pic, is quite short.
I would’ve honestly liked to see Wepner actually fight the bear (yes, he fights a bear in a ring as a publicity stunt claiming to be true, looked it up and it was) but I guess it would’ve been really bad CGI and PETA would’ve been pissed. But looking over Wepner’s career, the movie hardly ever goes into the thick of it. Instead we are mostly treated to his downfall (with drugs of course) after he takes Rocky filming all those awards too seriously and starts to use that as a crutch when talking to people. I would’ve also liked to see his relationship with his second wife Linda develop a little bit more than it did (played by the underused but always wonderful Naomi Watts). I also forgot to mention this: Jim Gaffigan has a small role as one of Wepner’s friends, and what a role it is. You can hardly recognize Gaffigan at all in his zany role. If there is another reason to maybe check out the film one day, it is Gaffigan as well.
There is unfortunately nothing new with downfall pictures anymore. I think if the film would’ve focused a little more on Wepner’s success in boxing mixed with the downfall, it would’ve been a more memorable picture. Maybe a little boring, but a little more accurate and meaty. Also the guy that plays Stallone in the film is excellent and I’m wondering why they didn’t show Wepner sueing Stallone like he did in real life, that would’ve been interesting. Instead, the film will get lost with all the other boxing/sports biographical pics you have already seen. And if you miss this one, you don’t really miss anything other than a decent one time watch that you will forget mere months or years later. I feel a little bad but I can’t deny that the boxing pic, with the exception of Creed a couple of years ago (and some of Bleed For This), is dead. I recommend, but not enough to go out and seek.