A film that’s just been nominated for
3 Golden Globes should be better than this.
It’s loosely based on the true story
of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team training on the DuPont estate, largely
because of the largesse of John Du Pont (Steve Carell), the rich inheritor of
a huge chemical fortune, who pretty much does absolutely nothing for a living.
Carell plays Du Pont with such a
complete lack of affect that we think he’s probably on anti-depressives,
when in fact, we see him snorting some cocaine, just for recreation, you know.
Carell’s Du Pont is full of himself, with no
particular reason to be, other than he’s used to his money making people
jump when he calls, which they usually do, as long as he pays them.
He doesn’t seem to have any real friends.
In fact, he wistfully explains once that the only
boyhood friend he had, the son of the chauffeur at the time, was later found
to be paid by his mother to be his friend.
Yes, that’s pretty pathetic.
And so is this character.
Much more sympathetic is the wrestling team itself,
led by 1984 Olympic champion Mark Schulz (Channing Tatum).
Tatum is physically convincing enough when he’s
on the mat, but his limited range of expression makes him seem severely
depressed, or maybe even developmentally stunted, and the only one who can
really reach him is his brother, David (Mark Ruffalo).
David is a perceptive coach and energetic mentor,
but he’s also married now, with a couple of kids, so at first he doesn’t
make the move with Mark to the Du Pont “Foxcatcher” Estate to train for the
1988 Olympics. But
soon Mr. Du Pont realizes that Mark needs David even for his own training and
development, much less being able to coach anybody else.
And honestly, Mr. Du Pont assuming that he is a
“mentor” to them is simply a rich man’s fantasy about his money buying
that doesn’t prevent him from making officious statements about effort,
excellence, teamwork, and other banal clichés.
The pacing is way too slow.
There’s way too much space between the
dialogue, as if we’re supposed to sit there and ponder the profundity of
what was just said, but the trouble is, there’s nothing profound
the training regimen doesn’t look very convincing:
they run around in the woods and watch videos
of other wrestlers, and that’s supposed to help them progress to the
highest competitive edge?
The competitions themselves
aren’t explained very well, either, especially the scoring system, but
maybe all we need to know is who’s winning and who’s losing.
This might have been a good opportunity to
teach viewers about the intricacies of real strategy on the mat, but
there’s none of that, either.
(After all, wrestling has been an Olympic sport
since the ancient Greeks.) If you really want to see a good movie about
wrestling, try “Win Win” (2011).
Otherwise, don’t waste your time and money
waiting for the one late surprise of this clunker.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the
Parish Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church,