Big George Foreman (2023)
George Foreman’s film career basically consists of him playing himself. In The Fighter he was a fight announcer, in Play It to the Bone a HBO commentator, while in Night at the Museum 2 he really stretched himself in his portrayal of… George Foreman. Yet as discovered in the Epix documentary Foreman, written and directed by Chris Perkel, during his first reign as Heavyweight Boxing Champion George Foreman wasn’t playing himself. Instead, he took on the surly persona of former champion Sonny Liston.
Not that any of this is more than superficially examined in the entertaining, but rather bland, Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World. Instead, the film takes the opposite route, overplaying the motif of Foreman’s battle with his inner beast which is embarrassingly conjured up as an inner rumbling roar. The eventual contrast between this snarling colossus and Foreman’s latter persona as a jovial butterball provides one or two laughs but is otherwise wasted.
Additionally, given the subject matter, the film fails to stir the emotions. A reluctance to entirely commit to story’s religious narrative paradoxically results in moments of ungraceful preachiness. Nor is Foreman’s miraculous comeback fully exploited, with a third act that seems unnecessarily rushed. Despite this, the film remains engaging, but this is mainly due to the improbability of the story. It's a remarkable tale, told unremarkably.
Ali used to compare Foreman’s boxing style to that of a Mummy, aimlessly plodding along while missing his marks. The same can be said for this biopic, though like Foreman, it's sure to generate a smile if you stick with it to the end.
as George Foreman
as Muhammad Ali
as Howard Cosell
as Archie Moore
The character of Foreman’s first wife, Paula, appears to be based on Adrienne Calhoun, to whom he was married from 1971 to 1974. Foreman was wed three more times before marrying his current wife Mary Joan Martelly, who is portrayed by Jasmine Mathews.