When We Were Kings

Bomb Rating: 

Ali wins! Ending ruined.

Okay, there's a little more to this film than the "Rumble in the Jungle" that took place between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974. If you believe director Leon Gast, the event was a defining moment for Africans and African-Americans. Muhammad Ali was the first black sports hero to unabashedly express his political views while winning over fans.

Unfortunately, Gast's style is so messed up that he changes the story of "When We Were Kings" into something completely different: a story of pompous old white men who refuse to comb their hair. Gast draws on cultural warhorses Norman Mailer and George Plimpton (along with Spike Lee) to provide much of the film's narration since both attended the legendary fight. Plimpton has written 42 books; Mailer, in addition to being an accomplished author, has directed four movies. You'd think that for individuals with those kind of credentials, the chance to sit down in front of the cameras would prompt a little attention to personal hygiene.

Did Gast have to interview them with his shirt sleeve over his nose because they smelled too? By the end of the film I was hoping big George Foreman would sneak up behind Mailer and, with one right cross, split his head open like a rotting Halloween pumpkin. Then Gast could have set up a fight between Ali and Plimpton back in Zaire. He could have called it "Mumble in the Jungle."

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