Friday, June 3, 2005
Russell Crowe does it again! Actors now a day could learn a few things from him, its called talent! He makes one really good film a year; I don't think Russell has done a bad film since Proof of Life. With Cinderella Man, the knock-out duo of Russell Crowe and director Ron Howard strikes again in this heart felt tale of boxer Jim Braddock and his astonishing come back story.
Cinderella Man is a true story about Jim Braddock, a boxer at the top of his game until the Great Depression hit and his family lost everything. It all begins when Braddock breaks his right wrist in a boxing match and his boxing license is taken from him. "Whatever Jim's going to do he's already done," says the boxing commissioner. Braddock (Russell Crowe) is then forced to search for day to day jobs that he'll be lucky to even get during the overwhelming unemployment in the nation, just to support his family. He obtains some work on the docks and is forced to use his left arm to lift most of the weight, because of his broken right wrist, this thoroughly increases the strength in his left arm.
With it being the Great Depression, Braddock barely making ends meat, he's unable to pay any of their bills and their electricity is cut. Braddock's wife sends the children off to stay with family because the harsh winter conditions are threaten to bring serious illness to the kids without any heat. Having to send their children away hits Jim hard, especially when he promised his son he would never send them away. "I promised him, I looked right at him in the face and promised him I would never send him away, and you broke my promise," Braddock told his wife. This forced Braddock to do something he would have never done before... rely on others. He goes down to the relief office to ask for money, but they only give him $15 and $44 is needed to turn the electricity back on. He is then forced to go into the city and ask the boxing committee to help him out. It's a truly somber moment in the film as it's clear Braddock was not a person who begged. It was a scene where Russell really shines emotionally.
Following that scene Jim's old manager Joe Gould, played by Paul Giamatti, comes to visit him and offers him one last fight against the second best in the league. His opponent had been forced out and nobody else was willing to fight without time to train, this gave Braddock the last opportunity for one final fight at Madsen Square Garden.
Braddock: "How much Joe?"
Gould: "For once in your life would you ask me who you’re fighting!
Braddock: "How much!?"
Braddock: "For $250 I would fight your mother, and your grandmother!"
That was one of my favorite scenes in the film, dialogue wise. Giamatti goes on to ask if Braddock would fight his grandmother with or without her teeth! It was a really well written scene which had a lot of emotion as well as some light humor. Braddock goes on to beat the second best player in the league in a huge upset, leading to the beginning of the comeback journey of the Cinderella Man.
Braddock gets his license back and has the opportunity at a title; the only thing that stands in his way is Champion Max Baer, who has killed two boxers in the ring. (Max Baer's son, Max Baer Jr., who you might recognize as Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies, wasn't too please about the portrayal of his father as somewhat of a ladies man and a certified jerk. The deaths caused by Baer are true, but Baer Jr. states they were accidents and that his father felt terrible about them, something that doesn't seem to be portrayed in the film.) The battle between Braddock and his wife grows stronger over the decision for him to take on Baer, especially when she finds out about the two deaths. But Jim Braddock was never one to give up over any circumstances. The second half of the film is where all the main fights take place, and you will literally be glued to your seat the entire time.
Cinderella Man, is a great story about a man fighting to give his family a better life, to get back what they had lost, a man who never gave up when people didn't believe in him because he believed in himself. I always love when films are made about good people, people that actually cared about their family, and worked hard in life. This film wasn't sugar coated, from everything I've read and heard Braddock was actually this type of person, the writers didn't have to make him look good, he already was.
Paul Giamatti is great, really puts in a lot of emotion and flavor to the film. I'm not a fan of Renee Zellweger, and she's the one thing in the film I would change. While her performance is decent she looked like a blow fish or a chipmunk with nuts in her cheeks, there's at least twenty actresses better suited for the role, but thankfully she doesn't hurt the film. Be on the look out for Ron Howard’s brother and Dad whom he gives a role to in all of his movies, his brother was the referee of the fight where Braddock breaks his wrist, and his license is revoked, his Dad is the referee of the final fight in the film.
Overall, Cinderella Man is an outstanding film, great writing, directing, acting, musical score, everything top notch. Even if you hate boxing you will probably enjoy film. This really isn't a boxing film, its about this man's comeback, his fight, to bring the life he and his family once had back. This is no Rocky, I can't stand that series, this makes Rocky look like Rocky & Bullwinkle. Best movie of the year, and new favorite film of all-time!