Spotlight Movie // Ali

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Review: Ali
  • Ali (Grade: C) — Will Smith fully sheds his ego, but the first true performance of his career is lost amidst "Ali's" loose narrative. Reviewed by Brian Orndorf.
    Posted: 12/31/01

  • Jon Voight, Jada Pinkett Smith, Join Ali
      The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed rumors of Oscar-winner Jon Voight playing grumpy sportscaster Howard Cosell in Michael Mann's "Ali." The role will be Voight's third high-profile 2001 supporting performance. If you're intrigued about the other two, read about them.

    In other "Ali" news, The Hollywood Reporter also says that Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of "Ali" star Will Smith, has joined the cast. Smart-assed suggestions (made by me) that Pinkett Smith has activated the nepotism clause in her prenuptial agreement are supported by news that she'll play Sonji Roi, Muhammad Ali's first wife. This will be the first film collaboration for the perpetually-smoochie couple.

    Related: Jon Voight Story

    Posted: 01/14/01

    Ali Update: Smith Gets Buff, Casting News
      Will Smith isn't pulling any punches with his next big role as world famous boxer Muhammed Ali. He's been training for months and all that getting jiggy with it in the ring has paid off as Ali himself said watching Smith reminds him of just how great he used to be. It may not be the Rumble in the Jungle, but considering Ali's condition, it's a tribute to his dedication and the film's authenticity that he can even bring himself to rumble with Smith in Santa Monica — showing him a few dance steps while he's at it. According to Big Will, Muhammed can still pummel the bag almost as hard as Smith's annoyingly catchy vibes pummel our poor ears.

    Joining Mr. Smith will be fellow sitcom-star-turned-movie-star Jamie Foxx as Drew "Bundini" Brown, Mario Van Peebles making his first serious acting impression as Malcolm X and Jeffrey Wright, who was unforgettable as hilarious Latino drug lord Peoples Hernandez in "Shaft," playing Howard Bingham. Rumors suggest that Jon Voight will play cranky sportscaster Howard Cosell, but Voight's casting has yet to be confirmed.

    For more on Ali, visit

    — Compiled by Chris McOuat.
    Posted: 01/02/01

    Ali Bio Beats Budget Concerns Into Pulpy Puddle
      Hollywood is a fickle lover and in recent weeks its favorite plaything has been Will Smith's Muhammad Ali biopic—aptly titled "Ali." A little more than a week ago the production looked doomed when director Michael Mann ("The Insider") had designs on surpassing the film's $106 million budget. Executives at Columbia Pictures developed flaky, itchy rashes upon hearing this news and sought to quell the allergic reaction by putting the project on a long hiatus. There was even talk of Columbia selling the film to another studio, a move that could have forced the ever-busy Smith to bail (Variety has the story). But just as "Ali" was on the ropes, just as the ref began the 10-count, just as the champ stumbled to the mat—enough of that—Columbia and Mann settled their budget issues. A Variety report says Columbia will foot the bill for "Ali" up to $106 million, but cost overruns will be covered by Mann and producer Jon Peters. It sounds reasonable, but "Ali" cast and crew should realize that the final days of filming will be marked by a serious degeneration in catering quality. "I'm sorry Mr. Smith, Mr. Mann has canceled the Evian order. Care for a Big Gulp?"

    With the budget stuff out of the way, it's time to address the question that inevitably popped into your head upon first reading of Will Smith's involvement with this film. Namely: How can a skinny, gangly bugger like Smith play a heavyweight boxing champ? The answer lies not in computer-generated biceps but in Smith's strict gym regime. Reports say that Smith has been working the speed bag for months and is now primed for his first legitimate shot at an Oscar (that turn in "Wild Wild West" didn't garner many Academy votes).

    With the Fresh Prince properly pumped and a budget solidified, "Ali" is set to begin filming in January. It's tentatively slated for a summer premiere but may be delayed until the awards-friendly Fall season. For more information, consult and
    Posted: 10/23/00