The Great White Hype - * *

Enjoyable, if not hilarious, comedy set behind the scenes in the boxing world. Samuel L. Jackson is the Reverend Fred Sultan, a Don King-esque fight promoter, who is currently managing the undefeated heavyweight champion, James “The Grim Reaper” Roper (Damon Wayans). Noticing a decline in ratings, Sultan sets out to create a white heavyweight contender to challenge Roper. He finds his hope in “Irish” Terry Conklin (Peter Berg), an amateur boxer-turned Cleveland rock singer, who was the only man to KO Roper during his amateur days. Sultan turns up the hype, blythely sidestepping a crusading journalist out to topple him (Jeff Goldblum), and an incompetent publicity aide (Jon Lovitz), creating the “Match of the Century”. While it never breaks out into out-and-out lunacy, there are consistent chuckles throughout this satire. Jackson is brilliant as the Reverend Sultan. Wayans and Berg are very good as the boxers. The film stumbles in its secondary roles. Goldblum is muddled as the journalist. Lovitz doesn’t get to do much more than whine. John Rhys-Davies is an enigma as Conklin’s racist coach. Toward the end, the film feels as if it had a few too many writers, but on the whole, it’s a lot more fulfilling than a 27 second boxing match.

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