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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.76%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad82.35%
Total Crap: 5.88%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Against the Ropes
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by Scott Weinberg

"A Boxing Promotor Who's a Woman? WHUT THE...??"
2 stars

Showing up about two years after its original release date and touting an across-the-board array of easily recognizable Sports Flick clichés, Against the Ropes is exactly the movie that its previews and TV ads suggest…only about 95 meandering minutes longer.

Based on the life of actual boxing promoter Jackie Kallen, as well as on 200 other movies about competitive sports, Against the Ropes feels more like a visual checklist than an original movie. Plucky and competent woman desperately hoping to make her mark in a “Man’s World”? Check. Tough-talking fighter from the wrong side of the tracks who hits the big-time and becomes kinda arrogant? Check. A nefarious villain who sneers at women and screams things like “Send him back to the ghetto!” during the film’s climactic bout? Check.

It’s all here, none if it new, and very little of it worthy of a special trip to the multiplex. As we watch the story of Jackie Kallen’s ascension, one is not so much amazed that a woman could accomplish such things in a male-dominated field…but staggered by the realization that the real Jackie’s life unfolded precisely like all those Lifetime Channel movies do! If a movie were sincerely “based on” someone’s life, you’d expect there to be some rough edges and strange moments; you know, stuff that actually happens in real life. None of the happens here, as Kallen’s story is spruced up and polished down until it’s made to look and sound like every other sports movie out there that prizes stereotype and cliché over risk-taking or sincerity.

As New Yorker Jackie Kallen, Meg Ryan sounds a whole lot like Margot Kidder impersonating Phyllis Diller. The accent comes and goes, but it remains the most entertaining aspect of the entire movie. Other than the husky voice, Ryan’s simply going through her cutesy-poo motions, if perhaps a bit more abrasive this time around.

Jackie’s one shot at the big time comes in the form of street fighter turned cocksure pugilist Luther Shaw. (Jackie discovers Luther while braving “Tha Hood!” and dealing with some crackheads in one truly ludicrous sequence.) As Luther, Omar Epps is as unconvincing as his character is unappealing. I hate to sound cruel, but Epps often sounds like he’s reading his dialogue off of cue cards; his numerous scenes with Ryan feel like Noo Yawk fingernails shattering against a poorly constructed chalkboard.

And then there’s good old Tony Shalhoub, given the role of Villainous Boxing Promoter, hell-bent on squeezing every last camp-laden droplet out of the opportunity. Offering what’s easily the most entertaining perfformance in the movie, Shalhoub seems as if he’s auditioning for the part of Snidely Whiplash. All he’s missing is the handlebar mustache.

It would be great to say that the directorial debut of character actor Charles Dutton (also on hand as the predictably salt-of-the-earthy boxing trainer) is something special or noteworthy. But it seems that ol’ Roc, along with paint-by-numbers screenwriter Cheryl Edwards (Save the Last Dance), were content to simply plaster their flick with characters and moments and themes from countless other Sports Movies, and hope that the bio-pic conceit would add a little credibility to the affair.

Such is clearly not the case. Even down to the oh-so-climactic boxing finale, there’s simply nothing here that you haven’t seen before. OK, except for Meg’s new accent. That's entirely new.

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originally posted: 02/20/04 17:48:29
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User Comments

6/12/06 Jack Sommersby An appealing Ryan in an appealing film. 4 stars
1/03/06 steve newman Wated my life watching this - although love to give Meg a bunk up 2 stars
4/17/04 Carrie Kohl A surprisingly good job of making a non-boxing-fan care about the story. 4 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Bad 2 stars
2/21/04 nick oswaldo movie is lame, tries to be funny but isnt, I'd advise you to watch Eurotrip instead 1 stars
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  20-Feb-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jul-2004


  05-Aug-2004 (M)

Directed by
  Charles S. Dutton

Written by
  Cheryl Edwards

  Meg Ryan
  Omar Epps
  Charles S. Dutton
  Tony Shalhoub
  Tim Daly
  Joe Cortese

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