Chuck Blu-ray Review
You may never be able to watch ROCKY the same way again after CHUCK. Of course you may not have been able to watch ROCKY the same way again if you watched the 30 FOR 30 documentary, THE REAL ROCKY. It’s terrible to admit, but the real-life story behind Rocky Balboa isn’t quite as heartwarming or heroic, but it’s certainly a lot more grounded and captivatingly tragic. Chuck Wepner (Schreiber) was always an underdog, but not in the way you would think.
1975 was Wepner’s year. He nearly went toe-to-toe, for 15 rounds, with Muhammad Ali. He was 19 seconds away from ending the round before a contested TKO. While relishing in the glow of being a hometown hero, a year later he’s told about a popular film at the movie theater, that’s about him. After catching ROCKY, he soon becomes enamored with living the life he sees on screen. He not only wants to be the title character, but he wants to act and live the high life, even going as far to track down Sylvester Stallone and rub shoulders with the Hollywood star.
CHUCK could serve as a cautionary tale about getting lost in an unattainable dream, but it’s more about chasing down your own imaginary ego. Instead of remaining relevant in the boxing ring, he seemingly gives up on boxing as he meanders from bar to bar, forcibly wedging in ROCKY and his fight with Muhammad Ali frequently into conversation with strangers, friends and even uninterested family members. He soon begins to build a false persona to impress random women and get free drugs. It’s the rock star lifestyle without the rock or star.
Wepner subconsciously understands what it means to be a good father and good husband, but fails at both because he’s chasing a pipe dream. Schreiber physically fits Wepner’s appearance off-the-bat, but it’s not until the finale that Schreiber really gets to play with the internal conflict that envelops Wepner as he loses grip on reality and the reality he’s conjured from his imagination. There are moments, especially where his lips quiver while attempting to keep up the facade.
While the love interests, played by Watts and Moss, help bring some emotional levity to Schreiber’s character, the true secondary character of CHUCK is played by Jim Gaffigan. Gaffigan plays Wepner’s best friend, confidant, and almost manager. He’s the devil on Wepner’s shoulder, pumping up his inflated ego while never saying what needs to be said, however reacting to the stunning revelations appropriately. I never thought I’d say that Schreiber and Gaffigan are absolutely magnetic together.
CHUCK is short enough to dry up any pools of boredom, but it also lacks a lot of expositional background. It needs to paint a clearer picture for audiences when it comes to other aspects of Wepner’s life or his severely crippled relationship with his children. CHUCK’s boxing move isn’t in its story, but its acting. The actors are infectious because there characters are infectious, and vice versa. CHUCK just happens to guide them to cliché storytelling and never lets the characters deliver an impactful final blow.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 1:85:1) The 70’s and 80’s is splashed across the screen, as CHUCK is visually enhanced by this blu-ray, intentional blemishes and all.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Not a very memorable soundtrack, but the mixing is spot-on.
All About CHUCK (3:28): This brief feature talks about the real-life characters, including Schreiber’s fascination with Chuck’s story. Not long enough to be a solid feature.