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Overall Rating
3.85

Awesome: 23.53%
Worth A Look56.62%
Average: 2.94%
Pretty Bad: 15.44%
Total Crap: 1.47%

13 reviews, 58 user ratings


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Cinderella Man
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by Chris Wilson

"Finally a boxing movie that gets it: only suckers fight for glory."
4 stars

The plot has been done since the dawn of time. Down on his luck protagonist triumphs over adversity, inspiring those around him/her. I went into Cinderella Man expecting just another ho-hum retelling with boxing as the backdrop (Yo, Adrian!). Saying I was pleasantly surprised is like saying boxer James Braddock (or even Russell Crowe, who plays him in the film) would probably beat me in a fist fight.

The film begins in the early 20s with Braddock in his prime, pleasing crowds and making money. Soon the story jumps to the 30s, with Braddock and wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) now fighting financially to keep their children fed and housed. Braddock works the docks by day and boxes at night. Despite his solid work ethic (such as finishing a match with a broken arm), Braddock’s boxing license is revoked when he can’t produce entertaining fights any longer. Even in this troubling time, Crowe’s Braddock holds steadfast to his values. In an aching scene, Braddock goes back to the boxing promoters he once fought for, dignifiedly begging for enough money to keep his children with him. When the chance for a comeback rolls his way, Braddock is willing to risk his livelihood and life for his family. The film spends most of its time building that premise up and it’s time well spent. And while it may sound melodramatic, it comes off about as sappy as a right hook to the jaw.

Now I don’t especially like movies about boxing. Regardless of the message, I find it difficult to relate with a character that takes physical beatings and fights others for riches and fame. I’m not saying Rocky was an evil dude, just that, to me, he didn’t seem to have his priorities straight. James Braddock, however, I could understand. I’ve never seen a film that so effectively captures the desperation of The Depression era. In a reversal of expectations, director Ron Howard really gives the film its grit while Russell Crowe’s performance maintains the hopeful spirit. Paul Giamatti, though nowhere near as memorable as Burgess Meredith’s Mickey, is fine in his role as Braddock’s manager.

The weakness of Cinderella Man is how it carelessly contrasts other characters with Braddock. One of the dock workers hints at being a communist sympathizer. This seems to be an attempt to make Braddock’s hard working ethic that much more appealing. The union supporter also drinks and yells at his wife, something Braddock would never do. But that seemed to be the characters only purpose: to make Braddock seem that much better, like a bridesmaid in an ugly dress.

Even less forgivable is the film’s depiction of heavyweight champ Max Baer. Baer is depicted as a rich playboy in his personal life and a stone cold killer in the ring. What’s only hinted at is how much of a clown Baer was in the ring. While he did cause at least one man’s death in the ring, according to his son he was traumatized by the event and lost four of his next six bouts. Just keep in mind that poverty is the real antagonist of the film.

Despite a less than boxing badass title (even Million Dollar Baby is cooler sounding), Cinderella Man throws some solid punches, in the ring and on the emotions. While it can’t hope to dethrone Raging Bull as the best boxing movie of all time (and one of the best films of all time) I feel safe in calling Cinderella Man the most compelling boxing story I’ve ever heard.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12400&reviewer=400
originally posted: 06/07/05 14:59:57
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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
12/19/09 Jeff Wilder Rocky with better acting. Million Dollar Baby/Raging Bull it's not. Still good. 4 stars
6/29/09 budo True story--well done 5 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Great film!! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT ENTERTAINING AND UPLIFTING 4 stars
3/02/08 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
12/10/07 mr.mike worth seeing , Crowe can play anything 4 stars
12/09/07 R.W.Welch Realistic depiction. Standout perf by Giamatti. 4 stars
12/22/06 Thomas Wynn Nice story, and good acting. 4 stars
11/24/06 Charlene Javier Crowe was brilliant as usual. 4 stars
11/24/06 Patsyc I really enjoyed this movie. Although I am not a boxing fan, I really liked the story. 4 stars
11/23/06 Tiffany Losco saw this with my parents, it was awesome. I really liked the story. 5 stars
11/18/06 annie The movie was good, Renee was great. 4 stars
10/06/06 Kara I can re-watch this over and over again, riviting 5 stars
9/18/06 daveyt very enjoyable, though my blockbuster dvd was scratced to hell...! 4 stars
8/18/06 Tom Conroy I think Zellwinger did a great job. Her accent was the most authentic 5 stars
8/10/06 drydock54321 a bit long but good 4 stars
8/07/06 JenDenmark Good movie, would recommend it for a Sunday evening. 4 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen Missed getting 5 stars for its awful slur against Max Baer 4 stars
5/24/06 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
5/15/06 Diane P this was great, attention to detail for the era was astounding, all actors tremendous 5 stars
4/01/06 Nobody The best movie of the year. Why was it forgotten at the oscars? 5 stars
1/30/06 WiseMan Somthing was missing. All in all the movie was very Enjoyable 5 stars
1/05/06 Dan Great Movie! 5 stars
1/04/06 Piz true story and a winner. One of the greats of 2005 5 stars
12/18/05 ownerofdajoint Good boxing scenes but evades the truth on the causes of the Depression.Opey sells out! 4 stars
12/12/05 joseph taylor boring and violent. the script and movie far far below "rocky'. poor imitation of it. 2 stars
10/02/05 Jonathon Holmes good movie, but its no "Million Dollar Baby" 4 stars
9/29/05 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
9/22/05 Fritz One of Howard's worst. Typical schmaltzy sports movie crap. 2 stars
9/01/05 Teh Gret one Prety Ghey 1 stars
8/28/05 Quigley russell crowe ruled the movie. why did it not make as much $? i loved this movie. oscars! 5 stars
8/26/05 Nobody True story, good boxing scenes, a hero you like rooting for, half-decent accents. 5 stars
8/25/05 Heather Purplethorne Quite interesting story of a human Seabiscuit 4 stars
8/11/05 George Seaberg Superb! I don't cry in a movie, but I did here. There's another similar story out there 5 stars
7/27/05 Tina Lawrimore Loved it! The best movie I have seen so far this yr. 5 stars
7/15/05 Lesle I forgot how much I hate boxing flicks 3 stars
7/11/05 Brian Feiler A movie with class and heart. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger should be oscar contenders 5 stars
7/05/05 rocky i thought this movie was awesome 5 stars
7/04/05 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
6/30/05 Quigley Great to have Ron Howard back. This movie is awesome, awesome, awesome. 5 stars
6/30/05 lindy03 Excellent 5 stars
6/21/05 ownerofdajoint crowe is incredible;this movie is almost as good as raging bul 5 stars
6/18/05 chris. Gee, I didn't see ANY of that coming... 3 stars
6/17/05 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
6/05/05 PAUL BRUNS If you didn't already know the outcome, great 5 stars
6/05/05 Richard Hernandez GOOD MOVIE .WORTH A LOOK FIGHT SCENES ARE DONE WELL 4 stars
6/05/05 J MAN good not great. If this is the best film of the year, were in trouble... 4 stars
6/04/05 jcjs wonderful 5 stars
6/04/05 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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