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Friday, November 07, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

If Rocky loved Apollo instead of Adrian — not that there's anything wrong with that

By Ted Fry
Special to The Seattle Times

The clinch is the turning point as Sangster (Christian Payne) and Travis (Bret Roberts) fight for the right to come out on top in "Cock & Bull Story."
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It's not a good sign when a movie struggling so hard to convey heavy emotion and gritty, streetwise drama reminds you of an episode of "Seinfeld."

During a key moment in "Cock & Bull Story" when an aspiring young boxer experiences what's meant to be a shocking flash of self-doubt, all I could think of was George's pained description to Jerry of what happened at his session with a masseuse: "It moved."

This laughably melodramatic boxing saga was written and directed by Billy Hayes, the guy who escaped from a Turkish prison and got his story turned into "Midnight Express." How he came to be in charge of his own movie is a mystery, judging from his complete ineptitude about everything from where to put the camera to keeping bad actors from looking completely foolish.

The story revolves around Jack (Brian Austin Green) and Travis (Bret Roberts), childhood pals who spend their days wandering the industrial docks and mean streets on the waterfront of Palookaville, USA. Jack is the loutish troublemaker with a hot temper, and Travis is the promising boxer who sees the ring as his ticket out — forget the fact the he's a scrawny wimp with no style or grace.

Movie review

(no stars)
"Cock & Bull Story," with Brian Austin Green, Bret Roberts, Greg Mullavy, Kay Lenz, Sam Scarber, Wendy Fowler. Written and directed by Billy Hayes. 102 minutes. Not rated, suitable for mature audiences (contains violence and sexual situations). Varsity.
Close behind the conflicted-buddy angle, the rest of the clichés are nonstop. There's the broken-down trainer with gambling debts and a dream; the supportive, forgiving girlfriend; the wacky drunks at the local watering hole; the concerned cop with neighborhood ties and tough choices to confront; the fractured families of abusive fathers and saintly (or dead) mothers; and the mob boss who dangles dangerous promises.

Most ridiculous is the crucial plot element that happens when Travis is in the middle of a fight locked body-to-body in "the clinch" with his opponent. To his horror, he experiences the opposite of what George and Jerry called "shrinkage," and the resulting dramatic interplay between Jack and Travis is either embarrassingly gay-friendly or blatantly homophobic, I still can't figure out which.

In either case, it's a load of affected hooey.

The production looks like the shoestring affair it probably was, and the acting is as dismal as the nearly illiterate script. Is Travis gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but who cares?

Ted Fry:


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