The documentary "Manny" chronicles Manny Pacquiao’s rise from a starving kid in the Philippines to a multimillionaire and internationally famous fighter, but it touches on everything without getting too deep into anything.
Narrated by Liam Neeson, himself a fighter in his younger days, the film contains interviews from everyone in Pacquiao’s inner circle, from his wife to his promoter, Bob Arum, and his trainer, Freddie Roach, to pugilism-loving celebs such as Jeremy Piven, Jimmy Kimmel and Mark Wahlberg.
It opens with Pacquiao being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012, but the film never KOs the viewer.
"Manny" is a nice movie; it even includes the fighter’s love of singing and acting, and smiling for the masses. But it feels like it was signed off by his handlers.
It’s co-directed by Leon Gast, who won an Academy Award for his 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings," about the 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
Gast and co-director Ryan Moore have wonderful access and footage. The problem is that Pacquiao, while decent and fun, is simply not as compelling as an Ali or a Foreman.
The best parts of the movie are when Pacquiao goes to his original home in a Philippine jungle that has since been razed, and the footage of his rise through the lower-level fights.
Mostly, the movie hurries through his life, from the sycophants and his desire to fight Floyd Mayweather to infidelity and the political pursuits that led to his successful turn as a congressman in his native country.
It avoids some of the darker times that shadowed his career, mostly the charge that he used performance-enhancing drugs to jump weight classes, or that he can’t stop spraying money at the many people who have come to rely on his existence.
If you are a fan of Manny Pacquiao, you will like "Manny." If you are a fight fan, just wait for his next fight.
Mac Engel, Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram