Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
4.43

Awesome68.08%
Worth A Look: 18.85%
Just Average: 3.85%
Pretty Crappy: 6.15%
Sucks: 3.08%

16 reviews, 164 user ratings



Million Dollar Baby
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by David Cornelius

"That's a masterpiece, boss."
5 stars

By now, you’ve already heard all about “Million Dollar Baby” - that it’s Clint Eastwood’s best film since “Unforgiven;” that it’s one of the best movies of the year; that it challenges “Rocky” as the greatest boxing flick ever made; that it features award-worthy performances; that it is, simply, an amazing movie experience. Well, everything you have heard is true.

And then some, in fact. The film is an emotional punch to the throat, a drama that still has me shaken, here a full hour-plus since the closing credits rolled. “Baby” works on multiple levels, with Eastwood (both as director and actor) supplying an overwhelming complexity of characters and their actions. This is Eastwood’s trademark, allowing his best works to be not about what happens, but how they happen and to whom. As a filmmaker, Eastwood has once again allowed us to peek into the lives of people at pivotal moments; he understands that if the characters and their situations are sharp enough, the audience will become so drawn in that the plot will essentially become a bonus.

The characters we’re given here, thanks to screenwriter Paul Haggis (adapting a series of stories by former boxing manager Jerry Boyd, writing as “F.X. Toole”), are endlessly watchable people. The script gives us three: Frank (Eastwood), a run-down trainer and gym owner who’s a walking personification of regret; Scrap (Morgan Freeman), a former boxer now working as a custodian at Frank’s gym, and the last friend Frank has; and Maggie (Hilary Swank), a too-determined hopeful from some nowhere town in Missouri who wanders into Frank’s gym one day, dead set on getting Frank to train her, never mind that she’s too old and too inexperienced for the sport.

These are characters with ghosts in the pasts, problems deeply buried that forever burn the memory. And yet the screenplay refuses to make this a larger issue than it needs to be. There are no overbearing speeches, no grandiose moments of revelation. We learn merely enough for us to understand, and then the script backs away, knowing that we’ve been told enough, and anything else would overshadow the present. It’s a wise and trusting way to develop characters, and Haggis nails it just right.

There’s also a poetry to Haggis’ writing (with credit due, I‘m guessing, to Boyd, although I have not read his work). Using Freeman as narrator, we hear nuggets of wisdom on the art of boxing that soothes the ear: “Boxing is about respect. Getting it for yourself, and taking it from the other guy.” “Boxing is an unnatural act, because everything in it is backwards.” Freeman’s narration propels the story in ways narration often fails to do - this is not fill-in-the-story-gaps narration, used by some lazy author, but a story enhancement managed by someone with a firm command on the art of language. (Even the dialogue sings, in a delicate balance between sharp attention to words and the fact that these words are coming from people who don’t place a sharp attention to words.)

It helps, of course, that to deliver such words, here we have three actors providing the finest performances of their careers. Imagine the film that takes two icons of the silver screen and manages to make them look like everyday Joes. Eastwood and Freeman come across like a couple of old guys you’d come across at the grocery store, not an easy task considering the recognizability of both. Better still, when things call for Eastwood to become a cauldron of buried emotions by the third act, the veteran is more than up for the job, presenting a turn so finely crafted that we’re reminded that while he makes an essential director and a kick-ass tough-guy action star, he’s also a masterful actor. And here, he caps his career with his best turn yet.

As for Swank, who’s far too young to call this a career-capper, her work here can best be described as that which will cement her as one of the finest performers working today. She takes a leading role that could have been ruined by overplaying, and instead takes a low-key approach, the result being a character that feels entirely natural. As “Baby” is at its core a quiet, no-frills movie, finding three leading performances that work almost entirely through subtlety and restraint is a great addition to an already wonderful film.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the characters and their story that one can be forgiven for overlooking the sheer remarkableness of Eastwood’s direction. Here, Eastwood takes his time telling the tale, knowing that rushing things would only get in the way. His pacing is deliberate, his use of slower rhythms a firm sign of trust in and understanding of his material - anything fancy would only get in the way here. And so we get an elegant use of light and shadow, of gentle pauses and quiet moments. Eastwood has never been a “showy” filmmaker, and here, much like his impeccable work on “Unforgiven,” he conveys a knack for understatement as a key to storytelling.

So yes, there is no question about the status of “Million Dollar Baby” as a work that instantly ranks on the short list of Essential Eastwood. Everything here fits just right, a small story of ordinary people that manages to loom large in the mind of everyone lucky enough to watch. And yes, even after the calming act of writing the review, I remain emotionally shaken. This, my friends, is a brilliant film.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11345&reviewer=392
originally posted: 01/29/05 17:38:07
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

1/24/11 Laura Very accurate portrayal of how black women act; angry, mean, hostile and cruel 5 stars
4/09/10 Monday Morning Storytelling, acting and filmmaking at its best. I love Hillary Swank, too. 5 stars
10/20/09 Helen An excellent film, Frankie makes the only choice possible. 5 stars
2/18/09 brian Hillbilly family pathetic cliche, product placement obtrusive, otherwise excellent 4 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. paul shortt :] is dead wrong. it doesn't make it seem wrong, he lives with his choice. 5 stars
5/14/08 PAUL SHORTT DREADFUL FILM, WITH A FINAL MESSAGE THAT MANAGES TO MAKE A WRONG CHOICE SEEM RIGHT 1 stars
9/27/07 mr.mike Clint was better than Ray , should've won the best actor Oscar 4 stars
5/21/07 R.W. Welch Vitually flawless welterweight tragedy with knockout perf by Swank. 5 stars
5/20/07 Sam Bonner The closest thing you will ever see to a classic short story come to cinematic life. 5 stars
3/27/07 Stanley Thai A very good film with great performances, 5 stars
2/05/07 Brett A big exercise in rejection and sadness, for those who must thrive on this 3 stars
1/12/07 David Pollastrini didn't see that twist coming! 4 stars
11/27/06 piyus kumar want to know the level of dedication and determination one can put towards his/her work 5 stars
11/16/06 Alyssa Hale Hillary Swank was Outstanding! Great story! 5 stars
7/10/06 David Cohen Could the product placement be any more intrusive? 3 stars
6/07/06 Ashley Hinz Rather disturbing, but meaningful. 4 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty What a wonderful movie 5 stars
6/02/06 Dan loved it....very sad 5 stars
5/26/06 Steve Newman Absolutely first class - go see 5 stars
5/21/06 Diane P excellent excellent excellent moved me, hilary swank deserved the oscar she won 5 stars
5/18/06 drydock54321 really depressing how they paralyzed her like that 2 stars
5/15/06 Lance Vig you just can't commit murder no matter what... 4 stars
3/17/06 MP Bartley Not as impactful as it should be, but kudos to Eastwood for a sharp, bitter take on life. 4 stars
3/14/06 van zwaar nay sayers=bunch of lamo g.lucas starwank anal fans 5 stars
3/04/06 Simon Wow, I guess it's not for the easily bored, but this is one powerful, moving, daring film. 5 stars
1/28/06 James This reviewer is depressingly ignorant and inaccurate.& the film is 1 big unoriginal cliche 2 stars
1/03/06 Sully Great flick. The hillbilly family made me laugh. 5 stars
12/23/05 S Gray OVER RATED! Hilary Swank is likeable but Eastwood + twisted ending doesn't = Academy Award 3 stars
12/12/05 lukas it was boring 2 stars
12/05/05 Andrea Tuttle That was such a great movie!!! It just makes you want to keep going no matter what!! 5 stars
12/04/05 od God it sucks big time 1 stars
11/20/05 WiseMan I didnt Know a shitty movie could win 4 Academy Awards. VERY SLOW AND BORING! OVERHYPED 1 stars
11/18/05 Chris Barrett Well Worth It's Oscars!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! 5 stars
10/30/05 Charles Durham Powerful.Time will prove it to be a masterpiece 5 stars
10/25/05 Frank Rountree Great movie about about a great under-rated sport! 4 stars
10/09/05 Agent Sands A masterpiece if there is such a thing. Riveting, dramatic as hell, perfect. 5 stars
10/07/05 James Skinner Depressing, unnecessary characters, well shot, excess of sub-plots, not "over-starred" 5 stars
10/03/05 poo tries too hard 2 stars
9/17/05 lucee Echo Snider. Even the boxing is interesting because you get the intellectual approach. 5 stars
9/14/05 Tom Burns The best boxing movie i have ever seen. Great acting! 5 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes a knouckout, haunting 5 stars
9/04/05 Die Bush Fairly well made but average script and boring, ignorant characters make it a waste of time 2 stars
9/02/05 Zack the best movie iv seen 5 stars
8/26/05 Indrid Cold Textbook example of how to push the audience's buttons, but nothing we haven't seen before. 4 stars
8/19/05 herkos akhaion Just didn't move me 3 stars
8/17/05 Larisa It wasa great Movie I really enjoyed it. And one of all time faviourite Movie. 5 stars
8/12/05 ES first half= oscar winner, last half= what happened to the great film I was watching? 3 stars
8/09/05 Fleetwood MAhh 3 stars
8/06/05 Anthony De Cristoforo just a wonderful, satisfying movie, emotionally and intellectually 5 stars
8/02/05 ALDO DANGER! A. Mackie sucked nuts, Swank ate balls, Eastwood was like wood, bad, bad script 2 stars
7/21/05 Dan Saddening. 5 stars
7/21/05 DM Not your typical boxing movie. Multi-layered and very wel-paced. 5 stars
7/20/05 Bad Critic A great boxing movie with a shocking ending. It had Brian F. O'Byrne in it! He's good! 4 stars
7/16/05 negation didn't think it would be this good. 5 stars
7/16/05 Mike moving, sophisticated, understated, surprising, disturbing, ultimnately first rate 5 stars
7/14/05 Jim Bare This movie is obviously a PRO Asssisted Suicide Promo. One of the biggest sellouts!!!!!!!! 1 stars
7/14/05 Phil M. Aficionado But for the cartoonish family, a perfect film in every sense. Knockout -- 1st round. 5 stars
7/10/05 Roy Kouchakgi Powerful, moving, and with a message of life, MDB is truly the best picture of the year 5 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands Not only one of the biggest, foremost stand-outs of Clint's career, but of film history. 5 stars
6/04/05 Ubu the Ripper Stunning. Eastwood is a director's director's director. Wow. 5 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon ex-Beverly Hills 90210 actress gets ANOTHER Oscar. just wish she'd change that last name. 3 stars
5/29/05 Jake A haunting and moving film! One of 2004's best films! 5 stars
5/22/05 Marilyn Great movie - disliked the ending 4 stars
5/17/05 LOTR FREAK Boring! Gay! Doesn't deserve best Pictures. LOTR is 1000000000000 times better 1 stars
5/11/05 Camilla Vinassa empty and shallow 1 stars
5/01/05 MeredithL Perfect! Well acted and intense! 5 stars
4/18/05 DODGY DAVE THE DJ EXCELLENT FILM FROM START TO FINISH 5 stars
4/15/05 Arse Poet Cunt almost made me cry 5 stars
4/03/05 Kerry Iyua This was a really, really, great movie! I loved every inch of it. 5 stars
3/29/05 John Bale Clint Eastwood is a legend at 75. A human story superbly acted. Don't miss. 5 stars
3/26/05 EDS awesome 5 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic Phenomenal! This film deserved to sweep the Oscars. 5 stars
3/25/05 Denise good 4 stars
3/24/05 malcontent Freeman's underrated, Eastwood's overrated 4 stars
3/23/05 Michael Lloyd great acting and directing, but very predictable and not nearly as emotional as people say 4 stars
3/23/05 dana Gordon Not my choice for Best Movie, but thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars
3/22/05 Jack Bourbon Frankie turns out to be a rhinoceros 5 stars
3/21/05 Kevin Rose Great Movie. 5 stars
3/18/05 Green Grenlim A great drama let down by a disappointing ending 4 stars
3/18/05 Rachel I'm making everyone, EVERYONE see this movie 5 stars
3/18/05 lora this movie has an amazing pace 5 stars
3/15/05 Andrea heartwrenching 5 stars
3/13/05 ray an absolutely incredible film. i haven't seen a better drama in years. 5 stars
3/10/05 Gayle Morgan excellent - Hillary is awesome in this! 5 stars
3/08/05 your worst goddamn nightmare This film moved me (and no, it wasn't my bowel) 5 stars
3/08/05 LarryV Transcends the cliches of the genre. A terrific film 5 stars
3/06/05 malcolm turning point match was a little contrived, otherwise excellent 4 stars
3/05/05 Josh Full of stereotypes (her "trash" family!) and sports cliches. Dull. 2 stars
3/04/05 The Crack A surprisingly powerful emotional experience. Simply put, the best movie of the year. 5 stars
3/04/05 Sam Eskenazi deserving all around 5 stars
3/02/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! THIS MOVIE CAN SUCK MY LEFT NUT!!! 1 stars
3/02/05 dbx great film, amazing even in some places 4 stars
2/28/05 IAther7@aol.com what was the La ??name was given to swank CAN SOME ONE E-MAIL ME THE NAME 5 stars
2/28/05 Barbara Blonsky I hated this cliche ridden boring movie! 2 stars
2/26/05 Cameron Cubbison anybody that doesn't walk away from thie film thinking ...masterpiece in every way...nuts 5 stars
2/25/05 James Kiang Excellent film. Not "only" a boxing movie, but more than just the controversy as well. 5 stars
2/23/05 Mary JD Wonderful story line! Great Acting! great job Clint 5 stars
2/23/05 Russell TS Brilliant boxing scenes,some humour but ultimately heart wrenching. Recommended adult movie 5 stars
2/23/05 Ros Over-rated but still a good film.Swank excellent but Freeman phones it in.Not Oscar-worthy. 4 stars
2/21/05 Natalie Stonecipher 3 well-earned acting oscar noms. but overall film still a manipulative sob bath. 4 stars
2/20/05 fiona you've got to hand it to Clint. He has a knack for making a good movie. 4 stars
2/20/05 Kristina Williams STUNNING. They better get those damn Oscars for this. 5 stars
2/20/05 Steve Michaud Eastwood has cemented his reputation as a master storyteller 5 stars
2/19/05 lj eastwood rocks it 5 stars
2/17/05 daniel r walker This was a fine film, not an amazing film.. I worry that this is the best we can come up w. 4 stars
2/17/05 Eileen Lammers I totally enjoyed the movie! Great acting and good story! 4 stars
2/17/05 miamivice goos film. not as good as closer 4 stars
2/16/05 john h. wallace what a range of emotions i felt watching this magnificent film 5 stars
2/16/05 Jeremy ok but needs a real title rethink! 2 stars
2/16/05 Naka Fantastic! 5 stars
2/15/05 Taylor Fladgate Incredible...but don't expect a sequel 5 stars
2/14/05 Alison Smart "...always protect yourself..." is the center of this story. This is great storytelling! 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Best movie I've seen in a long time! Clint at his best! 5 stars
2/13/05 KCobain The first two acts are marvelous. The third cheats and all momentum is gone. 3 stars
2/09/05 David Bennett Interesting movie 4 stars
2/08/05 Ray good not great 3 stars
2/08/05 Alex Stick this in your pipe and smoke it Scorsese!! 5 stars
2/04/05 Ann Klonicki A++ Go Clint 5 stars
2/04/05 axe Lucia Rijker makes a nasty villain(ess), her and the movie remind me of a Macy Gray song 5 stars
2/04/05 Melody A Its been a long time since a movie touched and inspired me so much 5 stars
2/03/05 Mirella Rodriguez Another oscar for Hillary for sure. Clint's best film yet. 5 stars
2/03/05 Helen Bradley Movies as good as this deserve awards, Eastwood is excellent as is Swank 5 stars
2/03/05 Barbara Long Very good movie, oscar worthy 5 stars
2/02/05 Clifford C Gardner This is a FINE film - go Clint 5 stars
2/01/05 Steve Michaud With this and "Mystic River", Eastwood has cemented his reputation as a master filmmaker 5 stars
2/01/05 Tammera Mack need more of these movies 5 stars
2/01/05 Lynde Foy Loved it--Clint gives us his best work yet!!!! 4 stars
2/01/05 Barbie A slice of low life that ends sadly ever after. 2 stars
1/31/05 craig varney clint eastwood at his best 5 stars
1/31/05 Gladys Paradowski This is thoroughly entertaining. I would gladly view it again. 4 stars
1/31/05 John i can't sit through a movie with hilary swank, she is not attractive 3 stars
1/31/05 Alison Very well directed; Eastwood never disappoints 5 stars
1/30/05 Lisa Craven Loved It, can watch Hilary & Clint all day 5 stars
1/30/05 Joseph Berger Very thoughtful, depressing ending, beautifully crafted 5 stars
1/30/05 Naka An affecting, haunting portrait of human determination. AWESOME. 5 stars
1/30/05 Carl Gorney Bad name choice of a title...otherwise,I'd watch it 4 stars
1/30/05 Koitus WOW! I think I just saw the movie for "Best Picture" and "Director!" Excellent!!! 5 stars
1/29/05 Flounder This movie is the best film that I have seen this year bar none! 5 stars
1/29/05 GoodFellaJCA greatly acted, supurb direction, excellent all the way around. Best Picture of 2004. 5 stars
1/29/05 billybob thorton it sucked 1 stars
1/29/05 Fred Pellerito Worth a look if not more than to see Morgan Freemans awesome performance 4 stars
1/28/05 jcjs good one 5 stars
1/28/05 buddy garrett good but overrated 4 stars
1/28/05 John Bale Up there with Requiem for a Heavyweight and Raging Bull, superb ensemble performances. 5 stars
1/28/05 darlenecom Morgan Freeman is really Great in this one. Time will tell whether he'll get an oscar. 5 stars
1/28/05 keith james MAKE THAT IOO MILLION DOLLAR BABY! 5 stars
1/27/05 carol alexander fantastic acting, fantastic story!!! 5 stars
1/27/05 David Grate movie 5 stars
1/22/05 Suzz pitch-perfect acting, directing, storytelling 5 stars
1/20/05 ownerofdajoint A TRULY GREAT MOVIE! 5 stars
1/19/05 babie raper yet again a superb effort from clint . E 5 stars
1/18/05 ajay fantastic, but not "the greatest movie ever"... certainly better then white chicks. :) 4 stars
1/17/05 ownerofdajoint BEST MOVIE IN A YEAR! 5 stars
1/10/05 Stacey Peachfuzz Can't stop thinking about this amazing amazing amazing film and performances therein. 5 stars
1/09/05 Windmills A masterpiece. 5 stars
1/07/05 Lucas Stenz Not a masterpiece, but very good 4 stars
1/05/05 alvin this REALLY kickd ass 5 stars
1/04/05 Jim The Movie Freak Easily the film of the year alongside Eternal Sunshine. Cried like a baby! 5 stars
1/04/05 magaafi some people say clint is too old 2 make a good movie....well fuck them./ 5 stars
1/02/05 Mike What a moving film. For a change, a film that doesn't need any special effects. 5 stars
12/28/04 Merle Enchin performances were very real 5 stars
12/22/04 mike schaeffer important and profoundly moving 5 stars
12/15/04 Kristina Williams My local indie theater started showing this. BLEW ME AWAY. 5 stars
12/14/04 Mike V Clint is king! This is a damn good movie. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  15-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Jul-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Feb-2005


Directed by
  Clint Eastwood

Written by
  Paul Haggis

Cast
  Clint Eastwood
  Hilary Swank
  Morgan Freeman
  Jay Baruchel
  Mike Colter
  Lucia Rijker



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast