After viewing the trailer for Chuck on television, I pretty much knew I’d be seeing this movie this weekend. It was playing in a few theaters near me and one was close to my old stomping grounds. Today was the day to see it at Arc Light. The movie did not disappoint. I would rate it four out of five stars. It wasn’t perfect, but was pretty damn close. There shouldn’t be any spoilers in this review.
Information about Chuck
Chuck is the movie about Chuck Wepner, also know as “The Bayonne Bleeder.” He served as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s character of Rocky although Sylvester Stallone has denied this allegation. It would later be settled in court. This was not in the movie, and for good reason. It would have detracted away from the movie’s primary focus being Chuck’s conduct in his relationships and how it affected his family, friends, and most of all himself.
Chuck was written primarily by Jeff Feuerzeig and Jerry Stahl. It was directed by Philippe Falardeau. It had a superb cast including, but not limited to Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan and Spotlight), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men and A Handmaid’s Tale), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy), Naomi Watts (St. Vincent and Birdman), and Pooch Hall (Suits and Ray Donovan).
Some of the best, emotional scenes were between Chuck played by Liev Schreiber and John played by Michael Rapaport as his estranged brother. I was able to suspend my belief these were actors, which to me is the mark of great acting. I saw tiny sparks of comedy in their interactions during intense scenes, which again is the mark of great acting.
I’m well aware this was a boxing movie too. The fight scenes were well choreographed and shot. The movie’s soundtrack matched the ugly outfits picked by the costume designer. The cinematography gave the viewer a realistic 1970s New Jersey feel. The whole production was top-notch.
Liev Schreiber as Chuck was one of those protagonists you can’t hate for too long despite his womanizing ways, drinking binges, and egotistical personality traits. I always got the sense his flaws prevented him from attaining complete acceptance by others, but more important they outweighed his desire to be rewarded justly. There is a scene with Chuck and Sylvester Stallone played by Morgan Spector, and by the end of it you feel for him. It wasn’t for his lack of trying in life because he really did try to the best of his abilities at that time. He was a boxer who basically went fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali, had his short claim to fame, and found himself swimming against the currents of his life after it.
What Else I Liked about Chuck
Chuck is a down to earth, human story. I like these kinds of stories. They translate well on the screen if done the right way. I can say hands down that it was done the right way. I began to see a few parallels between the movie Chuck and the movie Rocky besides the obvious. Yes, the characters were similar. That’s a no-brainer. Yes, the underdog got the chance to go the distance with the champ. Yes, some things didn’t go as planned along the way.
Sylvester Stallone was fairly new in Hollywood at the time he wrote Rocky. He had done various odd jobs to pay the bills. When he was satisfied with his draft, he shopped it around. The studio offered him a handsome amount of money, but he rejected it until he was offered what was requested. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing the role of Rocky, and the rest is history as they say. At the end of it all, Chuck and Sylvester mirrored each other too, with the end result being recognition for dues paid. I conclude that while Sylvester Stallone turned Rocky into a franchise (and can we all agree it should’ve stopped at Rocky IV with Drago), Chuck got something of equal worth: his own movie about his own life.
This review isn’t meant to stand the test of time. Some might disagree with parts of this. I am open for debate. My views might change over time, but I doubt it. I hope this encourages others to see this movie. If you don’t, at least, watch Rocky with the commentary. It’s pretty entertaining. There’s a comedic side to Sylvester Stallone you won’t find in his movie Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! On this ending note, have a good night, and happy movie watching.