Big George Foreman
MOVIE | Faith-based film punches above its weight with the true story of a boxing legend
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➤ Rated PG-13
➤ S3 / V5 / L2*
Lately, Christian filmmakers have been setting a new standard for quality in the faith-based genre, and it’s paid off at the box office. The sports biopic Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World continues this trend. With respectable production values and an iconic hero, it’s the kind of faith-based film that could find favor with a wider audience.
Big George Foreman tells the story of the boxing legend, beginning with his impoverished youth when his mother Nancy struggled to get enough food on the table. Despite the family’s poverty and George’s tendency toward trouble, Nancy believes in her son. While in a government job-training program, George meets Doc Broadus, played by the fantastic Forest Whitaker. Doc introduces George to boxing, becoming his trainer and mentor. Doc knows George will make a great fighter one day, and he’s got a plan for turning George into a champion.
But boxing success doesn’t solve George’s problems. The movie shows George’s pride as well as his fear and anger with the world. We see someone who’s made something of himself but still hungers for worldly approval that will never satisfy.
Throughout the first half of the movie, George struggles against his mother’s faith in God, but his life changes because of a near-death experience after a fight. George becomes convinced of the truth of Christianity, starts attending church, and turns his life around. In 1977, at the age of 28, George Foreman retires from boxing to focus on his church work and community outreach.
But that’s not the end of George Foreman’s crazy story. Ten years later, a decidedly older and more rotund Foreman mounts a boxing comeback that would be difficult to believe if it weren’t true.
Big George Foreman is an engaging true story about a larger-than-life character. Khris Davis gives a credible performance as Big George. He’s especially good in the first half of the movie when playing angry George. His post-conversion George comes across as a bit of a caricature, but to be fair, the real-life Foreman sometimes seems a little bit like a caricature.
Changed life brought about by Christian faith is definitely at the center of this film, and I was impressed that the movie actually mentions Jesus rather than offering a vague belief in God we sometimes see in faith-based films.
The Christian message, however, wasn’t fully integrated into the narrative, and the depiction of Foreman’s return to boxing as God’s calling takes some liberties with real-life events. Don’t expect the intimate connection between religious experience and sporting spirit that we see in Chariots of Fire. The movie also conveniently omits Foreman’s three failed marriages post-conversion.
But apart from these caveats, Big George Foreman is another faith-based winner.
* Ratings from kids-in-mind.com, with quantity of sexual (S), violent (V), and foul-language (L) content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high
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