By Charles Kirkland Jr.
Did you really think you knew it all when came to George Foreman? Well, you might. But just to make sure, George Tillman, Jr brings us, Big George Foreman.
Even as a little boy, everything about George Foreman was big. Big hands. Big feet. Big appetite. Unfortunately, there were no big amounts of food to placate that hunger and his brothers and sisters were in their small house in Texas. Living below the poverty line was a challenge for George that found him often fighting others and sometimes on the other side of the law. One night after a close call with the police, George discovers the Job Corps which promises him three meals a day. While in Job Corps, George, again in trouble, gets mentoring from Doc Broadus in the sweet science of boxing. Much to his mother’s chagrin, the fighting that got him in trouble was now George’s ticket to fame.
Big George Foreman is a dramatic retelling of the life of the fighter, written by Frank Baldwin, George Tillman Jr, and Dan Gordon. It stars Khris Davis as George, with Jasmine Matthews, Sullivan Jones, Shein Mompremier, Sonja Sohn, and Forest Whitaker. The film is directed by George Tillman Jr.
The remarkable story of George Foreman is legendary. Known for his famous indoor grills (the rights to which he sold for a hefty price), Foreman holds the record for being the oldest heavyweight champion in the world at the age of 45. This movie documents all the highlights of George’s life, from child to champion, and of course, the lowlights too.
While the story and the title of the movie are focused on Foreman’s boxing career, the central theme of the film is his relationship with God. As a child, Foreman rejected God. A dire experience later in life forces George to repent of his rejection and ultimately leads to his inability to fight. With Sony’s Affirm Films as the distributor for the film, it makes sense that the focus would be on the faith that moved the mountain. It’s hard to not put faith films in a different category because of their historic lack of production quality, but this film appears to fit the bill.
If there is to be a criticism about the movie it would lie in its casting. It is a stretch to see George Foreman in Khris Davis and Will Smith looked more like Ali than Sullivan Jones. Of course, it is difficult to find another person who looks like Howard Cosell but it would be nicer if Matthew Glave could provide a more recognizable mimic of the iconic vocal diction that Cosell possessed. There are other icons like Jim Lampley, Angelo Dundee, and Doc Broadus (who was initially to be played by Michael K. Williams) that leave those who remember them wanting. Director Tillman seems to abandon the work of finding decent lookalikes or creating them in favor of creating a compelling story.
Rated PG-13 for some sports violence, Big George Foreman is not the most revelatory film in the world. So many people know the story of how Foreman became the champ. The title even gives it away. What the film does is present the story of Foreman in the light of the gospel which may or may not have been known prior to the film. In that sense, Big George Foreman is an entertaining technical knockout.