Chuck movie poster

Chuck Wepner first became a semi-household name as the white guy given a title shot at Muhammad Ali. That was followed by well-publicized bouts with Andre the Giant, Sylvester Stallone, a wrestling bear, and a coke habit. In each case, Chuck’s ticket to fame was his willingness to play the part of designated loser. Liev Schreiber stars as the real-life inspiration for Rocky Balboa, though no mention is made here of the boxer’s lawsuit against Stallone that was settled for an undisclosed amount. Schreiber was born to play Wepner, a complex softhead whose delusional brushes with fame helped bring out his inner celebrity folk hero. Bonus: it’s rare that a boxing film proffers a pair of tenacious female performances. As Wepner’s wives, Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts go deep, contributing much more than just the elbow dressing generally associated with the genre. The downfall isn’t as satisfying as the setup, and a sudden burst of energy associated with the introduction of cocaine actually acts to slow things down, but it’s worth seeing for the performances. Philippe Falardeau directs. 2016.

Scott Marks

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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