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
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