Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Starring: Jon Voight, Ricky Schroder, Faye Dunaway
If you ever want to make a room full of grown men cry, make them watch The Champ starring Jon Voight, Faye Dunaway, and a 9 year old Ricky Schroder(the son from the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons). This is a boxing movie, but it is no ordinary boxing movie. This particular boxing movie is probably the most emotional movie ever made by mankind.
With the tag line:
The most poignant love-triangle of all - a father, his son, and the woman who came between them
I guarantee The Champ
WILL MAKE YOU CRY!!!!! Period.
I am so confident of this fact that, if you don't end up crying during The Champ, I promise I will personally go to your house and lick your dog’s hairy ball sack. That’s how freaking EMOTIONAL this movie is! I myself saw The Champ when I was a wee lad of 5 years old and then again when I was a full-grown man of 25 and both times I cried like a little bitch.
The story is about the relationship between a former light heavy weight boxing champ(Jon Voight) and his son, T.J.(Ricky Schroder). TJ idolizes his father whom he calls "Champ" instead of "Dad" like any other normal kid. Jon Voight as The Champ is anything but a champ. He's actually kind of a loser as the only thing that he's really got going for him is his job as a horse trainer and the fact that he has a son who absolutely adores him. In fact in a lot of ways, T.J. is The Champ's caretaker rather than the other way around as evidenced early on in the film when TJ brings The Champ home from the bar after a heavy night of drinking and gets him ready for bed. One day Jon Voight has a chance to redeem himself by making a comeback in the world of professional boxing and using the money to secure his and his son's future. Everything is going good for The Champ. He's training hard and making progress, but then things get turned upside down for the father and son when The Champ's ex wife(Faye Dunaway), who deserted the family and married a rich old fogy, wants to reestablish ties with her son TJ.
So what is so good acting-wise about The Champ?:
Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway both give brilliant performances in this film, but the real "Champ" is little Ricky Schroder who steals the picture. Schroder should have seriously won the Oscar for his performance. Meanwhile director Franco Zeffirelli should have been charged with tormenting a child because there are some pretty intense emotional scenes for little Ricky Schroder. And the little kid acts his little heart out! In fact, in the commentary of the DVD, John Voight admits to an adult Ricky Schroeder that he, Jon Voight, pretended to be upset with Ricky the day before shooting a key scene in order to enhance the little tyke’s performance in a scene that required TJ to think The Champ was mad at him! Poor Ricky Schroder...! But the ends were achieved as seen in the movie. Schroder’s commitment to believing in the circumstances of each scene is just incredible.
Jon Voight himself shows off his acting talent as the Champ. All the scenes with Jon Voight and Ricky Schroder are timeless. It is heart-wrenching to watch the father who knows he is undeserving of the pure idolatry given to him by his son. A kid who doesn’t call him “Dad” like any other normal kid but “Champ.” Voight also has a few very well acted scenes with Faye Dunaway who plays The Champ's deadbeat ex-wife. The former couple's challenge is to reconcile their past in order to do what is right for their son.
Faye Dunaway herself gives a very awesome performance in this film as The Champ's old flame. Dunaway really captures the agony and love of a mother who desperately wants to repair the relationship to her abandoned child.
The Champ DVD comes with the standard behind the scenes documentary, trailer, photo gallery, etc. But the real gem is the commentary section which actually has Jon Voight and an adult Rick Schroder in the same room discussing the movie. At several points Schroder actually begins to weep at the memory of the filming. Just goes to show you how real and traumatizing the whole process must have been for the little kid.
This movie could very well be the MOST EMOTIONAL MOVIE EVER MADE. And I’ve seen a lot of movies. The acting is very good and the highly emotionally charged nature of this movie ensures that The Champ will definitely become a classic.
Other movies I would recommend if you liked The Champ are:
Kramer vs Kramer, Blood Diamond, Terms of Endearment, Road to Perdition
Friday, June 13, 2008
Director: Franco Zeffirelli