Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Real Rocky

When a nobody liquor salesman from Jersey named Chuck Wepner went 15 rounds with heavyweight champion Muhammed Ali, people whistled and cheered the following year as the sensation "Rocky" was released, Wepner's story surely inspiring writer/star Sylvester Stallone. Still, as Wepner's life began to spin into chaos and oblivion, and his exploits continued to mirror those of the character in Stallone's blockbuster franchise, Wepner never saw a dime until he decided to sue the actor for right to publicity infringement. "The Real Rocky" in an engrossing story told by Wepner himself with vivid detail, humor, and brutal honesty which is somewhat inhibited by Jeff Feuerzeig's gimmicky approach, a style that has plagued recent documentaries. Also, a roundtable of critics who covered Wepner's career as well as other "fly on the wall" moments seem staged. Still, Wepner's tale is fascinating and would have been a knockout in more capable hands.