Sorry Not Sorry, But I Don’t Buy Channing Tatum In Foxcatcher

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Sorry Not Sorry  But I Don t Buy Channing Tatum In Foxcatcher Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher still November 2014 640x360 jpgSo Foxcatcher comes out today, and since it’s been a super buzzed-about movie ever since it debuted at Cannes earlier this year, I had some pretty high expectations about it. Expectations that it lived up to, if not exceeded, in all but one area — Channing Tatum.

Channing Mother Effing Tatum, you guys! I know he’s supposed to be having his McConaissance and we’re supposed to be taking him more seriously right now, but nope. I’m all for throwing people meatier roles as they mature in their career, but this is one that Channing decidedly doesn’t catch in his teeth. (Y’know, cause it’s meat? I don’t know, I felt like we were doing a dog metaphor thing there.)

Foxcatcher is based on the true story of Olympic gold-winning wrestlers (and brothers) Dave and Mark Schultz, and their complicated relationship with their benefactor, John E. DuPont, heir to the DuPont Chemical family fortune. I don’t want to get too into the story, because it isn’t universally known, and I imagine the movie would be more compelling if you didn’t know it in advance, so don’t Google it! Or do. It’s really your call, but I’m not gonna spoil anything here, so you can breathe easy.

All I’ll tell you is that Mark Ruffalo plays Dave Schultz, Steve Carell plays John DuPont, and Channing Tatum plays Mark Schultz and is massively out-classed in the acting department. Part of the problem is that Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell are both such powerhouses (who can both totally get it, in case anyone’s keeping track), but the other part of the problem is that Channing is playing a real person, so he’s basically doing an imitation. A good actor researches the person, internalizes their traits, and inhabits the character until they’re almost unrecognizable within it, but Channing is not a good actor. And we know this. We’ve all seen Step Up.

A clear alumnus of the Ashton Kutcher school of acting (or maybe Shia LaBeouf?), all Channing has managed to do is notice that Mark Schultz holds his jaw in a way that Channing Tatum does not, so he was pulling a face the whole time that caused me to refer to him as Ol’ Grumpy Jaw Tatum in my head throughout. I should say that he was a really really excellent choice for the wrestling stuff, because he totally nails the physicality of those scenes, but for any of the acting moments, you have to practice kind of tuning him out while you watch waves of charisma and empathy palpably roll off of Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell give an Oscar-worthy performance. For real, it’s incredible.

Maybe in another movie it wouldn’t be so obvious that Channing didn’t come to play, but when he’s surrounded by the tightly-wound springs that are his costars, he stands out like a sore…jaw. That he’s sticking out. The whole time. Sorry not sorry to keep harping on it, but aside from the wrestling, it’s the only memorable part of his performance.

That said, you should totally see the movie, because it’s great.