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Biopics vs. Their Fictional Counterparts

Some people’s lives are best told truthfully, others more loosely.

In one corner, we have Rocky, the iconic Best Picture-winning boxing movie starring Sylvester Stallone as the made-up Rocky Balboa. In the other corner, we have Chuck, an upcoming biopic starring Liev Schreiber as real-life boxer Chuck Wepner. The latter primarily depicts the 1975 bout between Wepner and Muhammad Ali, which inspired Stallone to write the script for Rocky. He’s since tried to downplay the connection, especially after being sued by Wepner, but it’s close enough to being a film a clef as any.

Chuck received mostly positive reviews when it played the big film festivals last fall, but it’s unlikely to become the phenomenon, let alone Oscar darling, that Rocky was. Its legacy surely won’t be as lasting, in part because true biopics don’t tend to get sequels. There are a lot of benefits to fictionalized accounts of real events and

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