"Big Man, Big Transformation"
What You Need To Know:
The acting, directing and camera work in BIG GEORGE FOREMAN are flawless. The script takes viewers on a captivating, roller coaster journey. George goes from rags to riches to failure and then experiences at least two comebacks. Ultimately, though, BIG GEORGE FOREMAN tells an inspiring story of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children for some fight scenes and references to hedonistic sin and drunkenness.
BIG GEORGE FOREMAN is an attention-grabbing sports drama from start to finish, a biopic based on the life of world champion boxing star George Foreman, known early on by the name “Big George.” Captivating camerawork captures several amazing parallel storylines driven by a powerful redemptive premise. BIG GEORGE FOREMAN is a rags to riches success story, a story of temptation, and a story of failure. It’s also a story of redeeming a personality fault into a globally admired talent, a story about the demanding rigors of a physical, even brutal sport that also requires extreme mental discipline, a story of career versus family, and a story of love and marriage failures and success. It’s also a story of comebacks against all odds. Finally, it’s a story of finding ultimate satisfaction beyond worldly success through faith in Jesus Christ.
BIG GEORGE FOREMAN immediately dives into the extreme poverty of the big-city life where George was raised. One of the earliest scenes finds George as one of four children seated at a well-worn kitchen table, their mother dividing up one small hamburger four ways between them. Even so, “Momma” makes sure that God is thanked before they eat. A subsequent scene depicts George patiently sitting at the grade school lunch table, himself without any food, yet surrounded by classmates who are not only eating, but also taunting Foreman for his pitiable poverty. This is the stuff of schoolyard fights which George will engage in all the way through his GED program with the Job Corps.
Happily, a supervisor of that location’s Job Corps program, Doc Broadus, while discussing his duty to kick George out because of the fighting, asks if he could take George under his wing and teach him how to box. With Broudus’ patience and tutelage, George transforms from a very crude street fighter to a very proficient boxer-in-training, complete with Broadus’ golden advice that, “In every battle, the most important opposition is in your head.”
With Doc’s guidance, one year later, George is boxing in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where he will win the gold medal in the heavyweight division. Yet, Foreman will be taunted again, as this was the Olympics of a Black Power demonstration, and George’s waving of an American flag will be criticized by those who preferred the infamous black-gloved, defiant fists of the medal-winning American runners at the Olympics.
BIG GEORGE FOREMAN introduces a love interest as Foreman pursues a professional boxing career. George introduces himself to Paula after seeing her standing in a lobby and being struck by her beauty and poise. They will date and eventually marry and have two children together. Sadly, as fame and fortune come George’s way due to his boxing success, so too does temptation via materialism and adultery. At the height of his career, immediately after winning the 1973 world heavyweight championship bout with Joe Frazier in Jamaica, Foreman finds a woman in his hotel room, and she begins to seduce him. It is then implied later, in a conversation with his wife Paula, that there have been multiple affairs. Paula separates and divorces George, never to reconcile.
Then, in October 1974 in Zaire, Muhammad Ali defeats Foreman for the heavyweight championship. It’s a devastating blow to George’s ego.
George tries to keep boxing, but he’s remorseful for having neglected his family. When his sister is about to give birth, her life and the life of the baby are thought to be at risk. Foreman makes sure he’s present at the hospital and then takes some agonizing private moments in prayer, asking God to take him, not his sister. Upon his return to the hospital room, a family member will comment, “Whatever you prayed, it worked!” as his sister and the baby did live.
Not too long after, in the locker room following a grueling boxing match with Jimmy Young, George hears voices, then collapses and dies for a few moments. In his dark, near-death experience, he says, “I don’t want to die. I believe!” and he miraculously revives, telling the stunned men of his ringside team, “Jesus Christ is alive in me!”
Foreman then begins to develop his relationship with Christ through church and pursues becoming a preacher and a pastor. His spiritual journey includes making amends. For example, he seeks out Muhammad Ali to ask his forgiveness for Foreman previously hating him. He also visits his ex-wife and their kids, asking their forgiveness for not honoring his commitment to marriage and family.
Foreman then founds a community center in his old Houston neighborhood. Young athletes can use the gymnasium and have positive Christian role models. Meanwhile, as BIG GEORGE FOREMAN’s storyline develops, he meets Jasmine at a church service, and begins to pursue the relationship. They marry and raise a family while working together for the community center, as well as choose to give worthy product endorsements. Thus emerges the George Foreman Grill, a product that may be more well-known than George’s boxing career.
Trouble arises, however, when the power company unexpectedly shuts the lights off at the community center. At the same time, George discovers that his decades-long business manager had lost everything in high-risk stock deals and drunken, profligate living. George comes to the conclusion that the only way to restore the community center and his reputation is to make a comeback in the boxing ring.
The rest, as they say, is history.
BIG GEORGE FOREMAN is a gem of a movie with many facets. It achieves excellence on many counts. BIG GEORGE FOREMAN is captivating, state-of-the-art moviemaking, whether or not the audience member is a boxing fan, let alone a sports fan.
Subtitled THE MIRACULOUS STORY OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, the movie covers four decades from the 1960s through the 1990s. The costuming, the cars and all the other pertinent historical and art direction details are impeccably done. Home styles for the sets range from extreme poverty through palatial mansions and in between. The boxing scenes are not only well-crafted on their own but are also top-notch recreations of famous classic fights. The acting and directing are flawless, and the script takes viewers to the issues of the inner lives of all the characters, including George Foreman. Such issues are what really matter when it comes to defining a person’s life.
BIG GEORGE FOREMAN has a very strong Christian, biblical, moral worldview overall. Early scenes show that George’s mother was a person of prayer, whether at meals or along the way of a day. George’s near-death conversion commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord is life transforming. It’s followed by a subsequent call to ministry via directing an inner-city community center and pastoring a church. It also plays out to proclaiming faith publicly as a worldwide celebrity.
This is a “Before Christ and After Christ” biopic, however. So, George’s Before Christ life is rather pagan. It’s consumed by a self-centered ego and sensual pleasure, with implied multiple affairs and material acquisition (such as multiple luxury cars) being paramount in that part of George’s life. The same pagan behavior is lived by George’s business manager all through the movie, to his own ruin. However, George’s boxing trainer and boxing manager has a very strong Christian faith, from his days as supervisor at Job Corps, through an amateur boxing career, and embracing George’s long professional boxing career.
Before coming to Christ during his near-death experience, George actually had four wives. So, the first wife depicted in the movie seems to be a depiction of George’s first wife, who divorced him in 1974. The other three wives before his fifth and final wife, are either depicted compositely by the woman who visits him in his hotel room or are not mentioned. The names of both wives mentioned in the movie have been changed, to protect their privacy.
All in all, BIG GEORGE FOREMAN tells a worthwhile, superbly crafted, inspiring story about redemption through faith in Jesus. Caution is advised for older children for the movie’s fight scenes and references to hedonistic sin and drunkenness.
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