Picks and Pans Review: The Great White Hype
An exuberant, knowing satire about the business of boxing, The Great White Hype is great fun. And that's no hype. In taking on boxing and race relations and the big money at stake when the two collide, director Reginald Hudlin (Boomerang) has made a raucous comedy with the loosey-goosey feel of such '70s Robert Alt-man movies as Nashville and California Split but without the pretensions.
The Great White Hype, written by Tony Hendra and Ron Shelton, is about what happens when boxing's top promoter (Jackson) decides that even greater riches lie in having his heavyweight champ (Wayans) duke it out with a white contender. The problem is getting one. A plausible paleface pugilist is finally found in the person of a dim-bulb rock singer (Berg) who once whupped Wayans as an amateur. As the hype machine cranks into overdrive, even Berg begins to believe he might win, particularly when Wayans loafs around instead of training, gulping ice cream and watching General Hospital.
Although he clearly uses Don King as his model, Jackson achieves a wily majesty all his own as the promoter. Both Wayans and Berg punch convincingly and are a blast playing boxers. They get sharp support from the ensemble cast (including Jeff Goldblum, Jon Lovitz and Jamie Foxx). Stick around for the end credits. The last shot is a veritable rib-tickler. (R)