The buzz around Foxcatcher leading up to its release date had me believing I’d be seeing a fantastic movie and an even better individual performance out of Steve Carrell’s serious turn as John du Pont.
One of those two things was true. Carrell was incredible in seizing his first role that was 0% comedic. He’s certainly had some jobs that showed glimpses of his dramatic side (Little Miss Sunshine and Crazy, Stupid, Love come to mind), but never a leading role as serious as portraying the real life du Pont, the heir to the du Pont family fortune who took a particular liking to the sport of wrestling and the U.S. National Team.
If you don’t know the story behind du Pont and his wrestling passion that was at its peak in the ’80s and ’90s, you aren’t going to get a ton of backstory or explanation in this film. But we’re able to piece things together quite nicely.
John du Pont is a middle-aged man born into wealth due to his family’s history selling gunpowder and other military ammunition items during the wars. He lacks interest in his mother’s main hobby, horses and equestrian competition, but he finds his competitive passion in the form of wrestling. This interest coincides with brothers Greg and Mark Schultz rising to the top of the wrestling world after both of them won gold medals in the 1984 Olympics (two more outstanding acting performances were given in the form of Mark Ruffalo (Greg, the older brother) and Channing Tatum (Mark, the younger brother) playing these wrestling heroes).
John du Pont convinces Mark Schultz and then later Greg Schultz to join him at his Foxcatcher Farm to build and train the next great U.S. Men’s Wrestling Team.
If at this point in reading the review you’re wondering where the drama and the movie-like feel is going to come from, I understand your concern. While there are scandalous moments ranging from Mark getting sucked into drugs and du Pont getting too physical with his discipline, the movie ended with me wondering where the hell the plot went.
For anyone who does know the story and infamy behind du Pont, there is of course a major climactic moment after the brothers distance themselves from the seemingly crazier-by-the-day old man, but even that didn’t turn into a major payoff for the audience.
It was all so boring and slow. Even the Oscar-worthy performance by Carrell (and possibly others) couldn’t mask the lack of gripping plot.
You should see this movie if: You’re a history buff that takes a particular interest in the more obscure topics like amateur wrestling and historic American families; you want to see an awesome Steve Carrell performance along with great supporting work by Ruffalo & Tatum; you like a slow deliberate pacing to your movie (it felt like a typical movie about an English king or queen where there’s lots of slow, soft talking and almost no action); you want to see Tatum with his shirt off so badly that you’ll waste $15 and two hours of your life (this is only applicable if you lack the internet where you’d be able to look up any number of pictures of Tatum’s chiseled bod).
You should not see this movie if: You only like good movies; you are only entertained by action or comedy; you need you movies to have essential elements like a plot, raising of the stakes and an eventual climax; you hate Carrell, Ruffalo or Tatum; you fall asleep easily; you have no interest in competition.
On the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS), unfortunately I have to give this movie one of my lowest scores of all time…a 4 out of 10. It wasn’t a complete abomination and I didn’t walk out of the theater early (something that’s only happened once in my life…it was during A Walk In The Clouds).
But it’s bad when I can’t think of a single person I know who might enjoy Foxcatcher.