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Overall Rating
3.85

Awesome: 23.53%
Worth A Look56.62%
Just Average: 2.94%
Pretty Crappy: 15.44%
Sucks: 1.47%

13 reviews, 58 user ratings


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Cinderella Man
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by brianorndorf

"A roundhouse heart-tugger"
4 stars

The reunion of Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, and Russell Crowe pays off again in the audience-pleaser, “Cinderella Man.” While carried away in style once the actions hits the boxing ring, the film remains a sturdy production, guaranteed to bring warmth to the hearts of millions.

Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) was a promising heavyweight boxing contender in 1929 who fell victim to the Great Depression, taking his family (including Renee Zellweger) from luxury to poverty in a few short years, and getting himself kicked out of the sport. Unable to find work anywhere he goes, Braddock accepts an offer from his former manager (Paul Giamatti) to box in a nothing fight for a small wage. When Braddock wins the fight, he begins a slow climb to the top of the ranks, capturing the imagination of the underdog-loving masses that look to Braddock for inspiration in difficult times.

It’s hard to argue the power of a film like “Cinderella Man.” A Ron Howard-directed crowd pleaser of the highest order, “Man” is a production that is made purely to warm hearts and tickle stomachs, and to witness an audience be moved to such lengths as to cheer for the on-screen action (historical events no less), well…that’s a beautiful thing. Yet “Man” isn’t the home run one might expect given the tale and the eminence of the talent. It’s a fine production, but the film lacks spark where it needs it most: the boxing ring.

The last time Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and actor Russell Crowe got together, they made the 2001 Oscar-winner “A Beautiful Mind,” so these guys know a thing or two about classy productions. A visual feast, “Cinderella” doesn’t disappoint. From the exquisite Depression-era production design to the muddy, claustrophobic view of the boxing venues, Howard and his team have triumphed again with meticulous detail and epic richness. The actors all benefit from the dynamic look of the locations, making their job of imagination all the more easier.

Speaking of actors, “Cinderella” could not be more blessed in that area. With Crowe’s committed performance leading the way with its brave punch-drunk detail and warmly satisfying realization of victory, the supporting talent has all the leeway in the world to achieve incredible work. Renee Zellweger does her best with a second-banana role as “the wife,” and her emotions hit the hardest in a movie overflowing with heart-tugging material. It’s also hard to deny Craig Bierko’s strange affectations as Braddock’s nemesis, walloping boxer Max Baer. However, it’s Paul Giamatti who ends up delivering the strongest impression in “Cinderella.” As Jim’s corner man/manager Joe Gould, Giamatti hits all the right notes of anxiety, support, and emotional disguise as he weaves past just as many obstacles in life as Braddock to keep his head above water. It’s a joy to see Giamatti tackle two roles (coming off his incredible performance in “Sideways”) where nothing requires him to scream or grate intentionally. I hope it’s a sign of things to come for this talented actor.

Where Howard falls into major trouble is in the ring. Boxing is a sport covered repeatedly by many filmmakers, and they all try to outfox each other with stylistic choices and rising levels of brutality. There’s a good reason why Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” was a flawless piece of work: he kept it simple. Howard isn’t that observant, and he needlessly busies up the boxing matches with quick cuts (often on the flashbulbs capturing the fight), which is very reminiscent of Scorsese’s dazzling “Raging Bull.” Braddock was a creation of a media hungry for a hero in a land of despair, and the flash cutting is meant to suggest the saturation of images from his climb to the top. But this has a noxious effect on the match sequences, rendering them both unintelligible and artistically impotent. “Cinderella” is a film that hinges on the excitement Braddock created in the ring. Yet “Cinderella Man” only seems to create headaches and confusion when it comes time to strap the gloves on.

“Cinderella Man” is endowed with a fairly luxurious running time (140 minutes), and Howard leaves no moment ripe for triumph unexploited. This is a terrific underdog tale told warmly by Howard and his cast, and for all its imperfections, it does one thing right: it puts a smile on your face.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12400&reviewer=404
originally posted: 05/27/09 16:40:39
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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
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT ENTERTAINING AND UPLIFTING 4 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 Richard Hernandez GOOD MOVIE .WORTH A LOOK FIGHT SCENES ARE DONE WELL 4 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Jun-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Sep-2005




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