The Great White Hype (1996)

A big, busy boxing satire with a surprisingly paltry punch, THE 
GREAT WHITE HYPE stars Samuel L. Jackson as a shameless boxing 
promoter whose plan to boost sagging pay-per-view revenues is to 
"invent" a white contender (Peter Berg) to challenge his black 
heavyweight "champ" (Damon Wayans).  (The logic is that people will 
pay more to see black vs. white than black vs. black.)  He may be 
right, in an absurdly accurate way, but the film doesn't give us a 
reason to care.  As a scathing sports spoof, HYPE is just that:  
unfunny, unfocused, and, at times, just plain pointless.   As a 
commentary on race relations, it's even *less* effective.  

The dialogue is the best of this mess, lines like Jon Lovitz 
exclaiming "I cannot make caviar out of fish eggs!"  Writers Tony 
Hendra and Ron Shelton also do good on the street slang, though we 
never hear enough of it.  The script isn't strong enough, though, 
to support the aggressive camera work of director Reginald Hudlin 
(HOUSE PARTY).  He comes across as absolute overkill.  THE GREAT 
WHITE HYPE *almost* turns around at the end, at the Big Match, when 
Hudlin attempts an extended gag of rock-concert proportions.  With 
costumed dwarfs, gangsta rappers, and the "champ" dressed as Death, 
only then do we get a glimpse of the spoof that should've been.  
(Rated "R"/85 min.)

Grade: C-

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: May 3, 1996

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