STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Commentator Frank Deford has been checking out the summer movies and doesn't like one of them.
FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: Some people want to ban boxing. I just want to ban boxing movies. You get the feeling sometimes that Hollywood still thinks Joe Louis is heavyweight champion and boxing is still top-tier popular. Yes, heaven help us, there's another boxing movie out. This one entitled "Southpaw" - oh, please. Making boxing movies when boxing is so passe would be like if Hollywood kept making showbiz movies about vaudeville.
Of course, the reason for shooting more fight movies even though people would rather see movies about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, auto racing, horseracing, dog racing, pole vaulting, the Iditarod, ski jumping, archery, fencing, gymnastics or badminton - and all other sports that must now be more popular than boxing - is that boxing only involves two competitors. And they fight each other indoors in a small, cheap space, and there's oodles of blood. And another selling point for audiences is that it falls into the great white hope category and the white guy as the underdog so nobody has to feel guilty rooting for him.
The other reason boxing movies are so popular to produce is that the universal script for boxing movies has already been written. So they only have to change the names of the fighter and his long-suffering good woman and his tough love trainer with a heart of gold and the evil promoter. For goodness' sake, Sylvester Stallone wrote "Rocky" as a southpaw 40 years ago. "Rocky" should've been the last boxing movie. Sure, even then it was chock-full of cliches. But Rocky had two turtles named Cuff and Link and you simply can't improve on that. I'll also give a pass to "Million Dollar Baby" for which Hilary Swank won the Academy Award because that was about a woman fighter, which, for once, was an original twist.
Ever since that new angle worked, though, I've been waiting for a boxing movie about a vampire boxer. What's kept you so long, Harvey Weinstein? Of course, "Southpaw" can take some comfort that no matter how weatherbeaten it is, there's an even worse sports movie that's just come out. It's called "United Passions," and its plot actually celebrates FIFA, the corrupt soccer organization. You heard me right - a pro-FIFA story. It has not been boffo box office, though one more reason for Hollywood to churn out another boxing movie. Get the vampires down to the gym.
INSKEEP: Frank Deford goes a couple rounds with us.
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