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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Ali

Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx
Director: Michael Mann
Rated: R
RunTime: 147 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Drama, Sports

*Also starring: Jon Voight, Michael Bentt, Albert Hall, Nona Gaye, Mario Van Peebles, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ron Silver

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review ---
4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

ALI stars a badly miscast Will Smith (WILD WILD WEST) as boxing legend Muhammed Ali. A wonderful comedic actor, Smith isn't the least bit convincing as Ali. Smith is an emotional lightweight, and he delivers Ali's many famous lines without any punch.

A bigger problem than Smith's casting is Michael Mann's direction. He performs the miracle of turning the life of one of the most exciting sports figures of the twentieth century into a colossal bore. A Cliff Notes version of Ali's prime, the script by Eric Roth and Michael Mann is confusing if you don't know about Ali's life and adds nothing if you do. Mann picks scenes of little interest and lets them drag on and on, long past the time the audience has already gone to sleep for the count. A two-and-a-half hour movie, it has a full hour of flab.

Although an amazing makeup department turns Jon Voight's face into Howard Cosell's, his acting isn't much more lively or interesting than anyone else's. There just isn't a decent performance given by any member of the large and talented cast.

The fighting sequences aren't much better, as two sweaty men in shorts dance around a ring and generally just hit each other on the shoulder. Ali's power as a boxer is never evident in any of the action sequences.

Back in the late 1960s, I once had the pleasure of meeting Ali briefly on my college campus. He was a sweet, gregarious guy with an outrageous, cocky ego. And he had such large fists that I'll never forget them. Smith is no Ali. And this ponderous, lethargic film is a poor representation of his life.

ALI runs 2:27. It is rated R for "some language and brief violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up, although most kids are likely to be bored by the film.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it just one star, complaining that it dragged on and on for no reason. He said that it was confusing and jumped around too much. The only part he liked was the boxing.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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