Mike Tyson doesn’t lisp in “Tyson,” the tawdry HBO movie that premieres Saturday night at 8.
And we all know that Tyson has this shrill puthycat lisp that contrasts with his tigerish growl in the ring.
Barbara Walters doesn’t lisp in that infamous scene recreated in the movie, Tyson slouching, eyes glazed, while Robin Givens describes the hell of their marriage and diagnoses her husband as manic-depressive.
HBO didn’t want to offend people who lisp? That’s the only segment of the population that won’t be offended by this ugly, exploitative chunk of garbage.
The movie claims to be based UPON “Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson” by Jose Torres.
Upon? Upon! Better they should have based the movie on supermarket tabloids. It would have been cruder, lewder and more entertaining.
Better they should have based the movie on “Blood Season” by Phil Berger. It would have been more accurate.
Torres had a handful of axes to grind. He was trained as a fighter by Cus D’Amato, the brilliant, somewhat paranoid trainer who rescued Tyson as a young thug from a New York reformatory.
Torres later served as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, dealing with Jimmy Jacobs and Bill Clayton, the men who managed Tyson until the villainous Don King swiped him. Torres was bounced from Tyson’s inner circle when King took over.
If the convicted felon (King) had led the convicted felon (Tyson) back to HBO, would we have to listen to the gutter language and the sinister portrait of King we get in the biased movie?
I think Tyson is a crude, undisciplined punk who lost some weight and gained some cunning in the three years he served for raping that beauty pageant contestant.
But I also think the movie doesn’t even come close to being fair, and that the loud, gutter language drowns out whatever message it might deliver.
George C. Scott plays D’Amato, propping open Tyson’s bedroom door to deliver sermons about fire and fear. He winds up sounding like a cantankerous, old geezer reading embroidered pillows aloud.
Tyson looks like a stammering, lovesick teenager in his pursuit of Givens. Kirsten Wilson gives the best performance in the flick as the eel-slick actress.
The fight scenes are better than “Rocky” and not nearly as good as “Raging Bull.” King, bless his cold heart, managed to keep HBO from using actual footage.
There is one memorable scene when Tyson emerges from the Indianapolis courthouse, wearing handcuffs.
A flock of pigeons flutters across the Indiana sky and Tyson raises his shackled wrists to shield his eyes from the sun, staring at the birds, flying free.
Nice touch, reminiscent of Jack Johnson, sprawled on the Havana canvas in his fight with Jess Willard, shading his eyes from the cruel Cuban sun.
MGM Grand has handed Tyson a $20 million advance on a six-fight deal.
The hotel-casino plans to build a statue of the convicted rapist, close by their trademark display of the Wizard of Oz characters, the scarecrow, the lion, the tin man.
That seems appropriate.
If the rest of Tyson’s life is going to be worthy of a movie sequel, it would help if he only had a brain, if he only had some courage, if he only had a heart.