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Awesome: 23.53%
Worth A Look56.62%
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13 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Cinderella Man
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by Jason Whyte

"'A knock-out!' (That one was for you, Collin)"
4 stars

The films of Ron Howard have been hit and miss with me; for every Apollo 13 or Willow that makes us love going to the movies, there’s also The Grinch or The Missing that makes us wish we stayed home. Thankfully, in this day and age, good ‘ol Opie Cunningham still has a few tricks up his sleeve with the release of his solid (if a bit overlong) Cinderella Man, a true story about a New York boxer who is forced out of his passion in the depression era and slowly but surely finds his way again.

The film opens in 1928 with Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) winning a major fight to much acclaim. His loving wife Mae (Renée Zellweger, fresh off her Cold Mountain Oscar) refuses to watch her husband in the ring and instead listens to the fights on the radio. Their life seems to be going nowhere but up, that is until the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting Dirty 30’s. Braddock and his wife are faced with the struggle of raising three kids when work is limited and money is pretty much non-existent. Jim’s hand also becomes mangled from work which he is forced to hide to keep the food on the table.

Jim gets a job as a Dockworker when he’s lucky (there are usually five hand-picked out of a huge row of people screaming to be chosen) and is struggling to get by when his ex-manager and trainer Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) offers him $250 to fight with a heavyweight champion. Jim takes the job, surprisingly wins, and he begins to fight again, much to the objection of Mae. Jim gets his passion back and is soon to fight against the title holder, Max Behr (Craig Bierko) despite the fact that Max killed his last opponent.

The fight scenes reminded me of the gritty, hand-held work in Raging Bull and while it may not come close to the realism of Marty Scorsese or what Clint Eastwood showed us in Million Dollar Baby, it comes close. At least Howard isn’t overdoing the fights; using careful editing and camera tricks, we can always tell exactly what is going on. One particular fight sequence is notable for going to another fight by way of a simple “punch” edit to a future fight while still staying in the ring.

Howard also does a good job at bringing us back to the 1930’s depression era. There’s a simple shot of the old shanty town “Hooverville” with New York looming in the background that is quite memorable. What’s even more surprising is that the majority of the film is shot in Toronto (many of the supporting actors, like Davinci’s Inquest’s Nicholas Campbell and Kids in the Hall alum Scott Thompson are from there), and is much less notable than other films that pretend to be a huge city but look far too Canuck-like.

In the end, Cinderella Man succeeds the most for the work by Crowe, who is honest, real and a force of nature, and we come to care about him as he fights his way not only in the ring but through his personal struggle with his wife and kids. He is not matched well by Renée Zellweger’s shrill-voiced and mouse-faced Mae, but he has a great chemistry with boss/manager Joe; it may also help that the always-reliable Giamatti gives another one of his great performances as someone who is tested strongly as he helps Jim back into the life of the ring. Fast talking and always winning the argument, one character remarks, “They could put your mouth in the circus!” Yeah, and they could give him an Oscar, too.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12400&reviewer=350
originally posted: 06/08/05 13:04:28
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User Comments

6/22/10 Monday Morning Like Seabiscuit with two legs. Love the uplifting story - we need it now. 4 stars
12/18/09 Jeff Wilder Rocky with better acting. Million Dollar Baby/Raging Bull it's not. Still good. 4 stars
6/28/09 budo True story--well done 5 stars
9/02/08 Shaun Wallner Great film!! 5 stars
3/01/08 Pamela White Integrity and faith, hard road to travel 5 stars
1/02/08 Matt Great performance from Crowe and superbly filmed fight scenes. Excellent movie. 4 stars
12/09/07 mr.mike worth seeing , Crowe can play anything 4 stars
12/08/07 R.W.Welch Realistic depiction. Standout perf by Giamatti. 4 stars
12/21/06 Thomas Wynn Nice story, and good acting. 4 stars
11/24/06 Charlene Javier Crowe was brilliant as usual. 4 stars
11/23/06 Patsyc I really enjoyed this movie. Although I am not a boxing fan, I really liked the story. 4 stars
11/22/06 Tiffany Losco saw this with my parents, it was awesome. I really liked the story. 5 stars
11/17/06 annie The movie was good, Renee was great. 4 stars
10/05/06 Kara I can re-watch this over and over again, riviting 5 stars
9/17/06 daveyt very enjoyable, though my blockbuster dvd was scratced to hell...! 4 stars
8/17/06 Tom Conroy I think Zellwinger did a great job. Her accent was the most authentic 5 stars
8/09/06 drydock54321 a bit long but good 4 stars
8/06/06 JenDenmark Good movie, would recommend it for a Sunday evening. 4 stars
7/10/06 David Cohen Missed getting 5 stars for its awful slur against Max Baer 4 stars
5/23/06 Anthony Feor Had depth but, it is just like Rocky 4 stars
5/18/06 Phil M. Aficionado Would be 5 stars if they hadn't "hokeyed" up Max Baer so extremely 4 stars
5/14/06 Diane P this was great, attention to detail for the era was astounding, all actors tremendous 5 stars
3/31/06 Nobody The best movie of the year. Why was it forgotten at the oscars? 5 stars
1/29/06 WiseMan Somthing was missing. All in all the movie was very Enjoyable 5 stars
1/04/06 Dan Great Movie! 5 stars
1/03/06 Piz true story and a winner. One of the greats of 2005 5 stars
12/17/05 ownerofdajoint Good boxing scenes but evades the truth on the causes of the Depression.Opey sells out! 4 stars
12/11/05 joseph taylor boring and violent. the script and movie far far below "rocky'. poor imitation of it. 2 stars
10/01/05 Jonathon Holmes good movie, but its no "Million Dollar Baby" 4 stars
9/28/05 JOrdan it was bad make a new movie! 1 stars
9/25/05 Renee Zellweger's best performance yet Hope she wins an Oscar and isn't taking a dump when it's presented! 5 stars
9/21/05 Fritz One of Howard's worst. Typical schmaltzy sports movie crap. 2 stars
9/01/05 Teh Gret one Prety Ghey 1 stars
8/27/05 Quigley russell crowe ruled the movie. why did it not make as much $? i loved this movie. oscars! 5 stars
8/25/05 Nobody True story, good boxing scenes, a hero you like rooting for, half-decent accents. 5 stars
8/24/05 Heather Purplethorne Quite interesting story of a human Seabiscuit 4 stars
8/10/05 George Seaberg Superb! I don't cry in a movie, but I did here. There's another similar story out there 5 stars
7/26/05 Tina Lawrimore Loved it! The best movie I have seen so far this yr. 5 stars
7/14/05 Lesle I forgot how much I hate boxing flicks 3 stars
7/10/05 Brian Feiler A movie with class and heart. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger should be oscar contenders 5 stars
7/04/05 rocky i thought this movie was awesome 5 stars
7/03/05 Naka Howard is a lucky hack. 2 stars
7/03/05 Melissa AWESOME movie. Russell Crowe (at least in his profession) can't make a mistake. A+ 5 stars
6/30/05 Ole Man Bourbon I wish they'd included the scene where R Crowe smashed the phone on the valet 4 stars
6/29/05 Quigley Great to have Ron Howard back. This movie is awesome, awesome, awesome. 5 stars
6/29/05 lindy03 Excellent 5 stars
6/20/05 ownerofdajoint crowe is incredible;this movie is almost as good as raging bul 5 stars
6/17/05 chris. Gee, I didn't see ANY of that coming... 3 stars
6/16/05 Wayne Engle Second coming of Frank Capra! A superb job! 5 stars
6/16/05 Mike V Damn good. Ron Howard didn't "Hollywood" it up TOO much 4 stars
6/08/05 Jim Marmino Where is the creativity, just another Rock movie or Somebody Up There Likes Me. 3 stars
6/07/05 Ole Man Bourbon Decent, but oh so predictable. Definitely one of those that wrote itself (or maybe a puter 3 stars
6/04/05 PAUL BRUNS If you didn't already know the outcome, great 5 stars
6/04/05 J MAN good not great. If this is the best film of the year, were in trouble... 4 stars
6/03/05 jcjs wonderful 5 stars
6/03/05 Koitus Great story. Giamatti should get Supporting Oscar for this one! Well set-up ending. 5 stars
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  03-Jun-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Dec-2005



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