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Foxcatcher is as enjoyable as a stuffy nose. It is dry and dull, and you can do nothing aside from suffer until it mercifully ends. Sit back and strain through more than two hours of sweaty man love.

It’s no secret this movie exists essentially as a showcase for Steve Carell. Kudos, the Oscar bait snagged a nomination, but Carell has no chance of reeling in the Best Actor award. Comedic actors cast in dramatic roles is nothing new. Regardless of public perception, Steve Carell has some serious acting ability and people need to give him his due. While Carell is rock-solid as eccentric rich guy and awkward wrestling enthusiast John E. du Pont, the character isn’t interesting enough to captivate your interest.

Golden Eagle

By offering money to train in the top-notch facilities at Foxcatcher, John E. du Pont interjects himself into the lives of U.S. Olympic wrestling gold medal-winning brothers, Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (played by Mark Ruffalo). John E. du Pont claims his friends call him “Golden Eagle.” It doesn’t take long to realize that du Pont is a bit of a creep with delusions of grandeur.

Serving as a time capsule of the era, Foxcatcher is firmly grounded in the 80s.

While training for the Olympics, Mark Schultz scrapes by eating ramen noodles and making money from speaking at middle school assemblies. It’s sad and pathetic. It’s also true for most no-name Olympic athletes who insanely dedicate themselves to the relentless pursuit of one specific goal.

Mark Schultz is not a likable character. In this movie, he’s a one-dimensional meathead. Channing Tatum is incredibly believable at acting dumb. This role is no different. Showing his acting chops, there’s a scene where Channing Tatum hits himself in the face and smashes his head through a mirror.

Head Smash

Only, it wasn’t acting. It was the most honest aspect of this movie. You can clearly see his big blockhead crashed too far through the mirror and into the wall. He made him bleed his own blood. There’s also a scene where Mark Schultz is struggling to memorize a short speech with big words, but I’m 99.9% certain that was just Channing Tatum genuinely stammering and stuttering through his lines.

Forget about Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Mark Ruffalo is the true star of this movie. Despite a cartoonish, unspeakably bad hair makeup, Dave Schultz is the only authentic human being in this movie. Neither John E. du Pont nor Mark Schultz has a pulse. On the other hand, Ruffalo portrays a conflicted character with self-guilt and obligations to his family, but ultimately he too has a price. Everybody’s got a price. And everybody’s gonna pay. Because the Million Dollar Man, always gets his way!

Without Dave Schultz, Foxcatcher would be without a moral compass.

Ruffalo

At the end of the movie, the only character you have any sort of emotional investment in is Dave Schultz. Although the narrative was intentionally constructed in that manner, it’s a credit to Mark Ruffalo that you manage to care at all. Maybe some still won’t even care about Dave Schultz.

Foxcatcher is a very understated movie that implies motivations instead of revealing them. In almost every instance, the audience is unaware of the reasoning behind a character’s action. I don’t need to be told everything, but I need to be told something. What’s the point of all this?

Anything is a more satisfying answer than America.

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2 out of 5 stars

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