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The Great White Hype (1996)

By Tom Scocca | Posted

Comedy--good comedy--is way more truthful than drama. That's why it's funny. And that's why this is possibly the best boxing movie ever made. It's not about Man, stripped to his essentials, struggling in a test of Will. It's about boxing--the whole circus of amorality, exploitation, and brutality. Instead of earnest dimwit Rocky Balboa, we get earnest dimwit "Irish" Terry Conklin (Peter Berg), an aspiring musician and marginal pug plucked from obscurity by all-powerful promoter the Rev. Fred Sultan (Samuel L. Jackson, in a Caesar wig) to fight invincible and complacent heavyweight champ James "The Grim Reaper" Roper (Damon Wayans, in a prosthetic potbelly). As Sultan sells the fight, would-be crusading journalist Mitchell Kane (Jeff Goldblum) gets sucked in by the promoter's charisma and guile. Does Conklin have a chance to beat the odds and turn the corrupt and cynical world of championship boxing upside down? What do you think, dumbass? With an electric bit performance by Jamie Foxx as the manager of the legitimate No. 1 contender.

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