Movie Review: Big George Foreman

The famed heavyweight gets the biopic treatment in a misguided effort.


There is precisely one superlative element to the new biopic of George Foreman: Its title.

The full name of this film, “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World” is, by some measures, the lengthiest sobriquet ever for a wide-release film. Thanks to that, this film may stand the test of time as the answer to a trivia question.

Other than that, it’ll be forgotten in less time than it takes … well, to say its title.

Foreman (Khris Davis) did have a dramatic journey, from a childhood in poverty to the World Championship, then to an early retirement and rebirth as a preacher — only to return to the ring and become the oldest Heavyweight Champ in history. While the beginning and end of that story make for the most natural subject matter, “Big George Foreman” concerns itself mostly with the preaching.

This, you see, is a faith-based film in disguise, produced by the Christian production company Affirm Films. While it’s being marketed as a pure biopic, “Big George Foreman” is actually here to proselytize, seeing the fighter’s moment of revelation — an encounter with God after a near-death experience following a bad loss in Puerto Rico — as the central moment of his life.

Sports movies serving as spiritual tales in disguise is nothing new; the Kurt Warner biopic, “American Underdog,” is a recent example. Usually, however, they’re presented as fairly straightforward sports dramas with some added references to prayer and faith. In “Big George Foreman,” the ministry is the thing.

If it were a good film, it wouldn’t matter; since it is actually a bad film, it feels like a Trojan Horse. Davis and his co-stars (including Forest Whitaker as trainer Doc Broadus and Sullivan Jones as Muhammad Ali) put in solid work, but the script is uninspired and the in-ring action is dull. The latter flaw is often the death knell for a boxing movie, and that’s certainly the case here; it’s more interesting to read Foreman’s Wikipedia page than it is to watch the version of his biography presented here.

Sadly for the real Foreman, his movie only really comes alive when Ali turns up. There’s a pretty good biopic of that guy, by the way; maybe you should watch that instead.

My Rating: 3/10

“Big George Foreman …” is now playing in theaters.

Categories: Sean Collier’s Popcorn for Dinner