Picks and Pans Review: The Champ

UPDATED 04/30/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/30/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT

Despite the Hollywood actors' maxim "Never do a picture with kids or dogs," Wallace Beery won an Oscar for his role in the original 1931 Champ, even though 9-year-old Jackie Cooper was pitifully lovable. In this remake, Jon Voight's talents get KO'd by Ricky Schroder, 8, who looks like a Campbell Soup kid, which he was. As the champ, Jon is a loser—a failed boxer, gambler, brawler and drinker. His wife and the child's mother (Faye Dun-away, more of an ice queen than ever) has left them, but reappears to see her son. Ricky upstages her too. Director Franco (Jesus of Nazareth) Zeffirelli uses Florida's beautiful Hialeah racetrack as the main location. The seamy side of the movie looks authentic too. But it is basically shameless, going for the tear ducts at every opportunity—and there are plenty. It is a must only for those who, for reasons of catharsis or masochism, like to wade out of movie theaters through waves of tears. (PG)

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