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Cinderella Man (2005)
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Review Date: June 01, 2005
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman
Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall
Actors:
Russell Crowe as Jim
Renee Zellweger as Mae
Paul Giamatti as Joe
Plot:
Based on the real life of Depression-era boxer James Braddock, this film follows the pugilist from his fall from grace and into the depths of poverty, to his second chance as an up-and-coming fighter, ready to return to the ring in the hopes of making some money and helping his wife and kids out of the poorhouse. What follows is Russell Crowe…boxing his ass off!
Critique:
I understand that this film had two previous titles, both of which were said to be too “obvious”, so they changed it to the current one. The first was IT SUCKS TO BE POOR, a perfect moniker for the entire beginning sections of this movie, while the second was SEABISCUIT 2: WE REPLACED THE HORSE WITH AN IRISH BOXER…ENJOY!, but it was apparently a little too long for the marquee. All that to say that despite this film telling a competent true-life tale about a down-and-out man and his family during the Depression, directed competently by Ron Howard, acted competently by Russell Crowe and putting together a number of competent boxing sequences, it ultimately didn’t pull me into its emotional side, as the lame acting by screech/cry actress Renee Zellweger simply bored me as the routine wife (mind you, she’s not helped with such lines as “You’re the champion of my heart”) and the completely predictable plotline never offered any real obstacles in order for me to truly invest myself in this man’s journey. As it stands, I certainly gave a shit about Braddock because the basic idea behind his tale was a sad one and Crowe’s performance was pretty good as the down-and-out fighter (although I’m not sure about his young Mickey Rourke accent, but alas…), but once things got into the whole “woe is us” area, I just couldn’t help but remain distant from it all, since the film’s trailer and promotion (and its similarity to many movies of its sort) just didn’t allow me to really buy into their unfortunate situation, since I pretty much knew where the film was going after that (even SEABISCUIT gave us the whole “blind” angle out of left field).

Truly, the movie offered zero surprises or real obstacles along the way, so even though everything in the movie looked authentic, its pacing was never dull and the boxing sequences were energetic and fun (with a great turn by Craig Bierko…I love that guy…give him more parts!!), at the end of the day, I don’t think many audience members will be taken aback by much of what occurs in this movie, hence the lack of emotional investment—at least, from my part. That said, I wasn’t completely out of the film, as a couple of scenes did touch me, as the film’s score, and the surprising directing by Howard, managed to pull me into a few sequences, but I certainly wasn’t standing up in my seat and hollering for Braddock during the film’s final (and quite elongated) fight. Even Giamatti, who’s great as the cornerman with the million-and-one one-liners, was a little too predictable with his comebacks, and a subplot with Paddy Considine is sadly, underdeveloped. All that said, I’m still scoring the film pretty high because ultimately I was entertained, enjoyed Crowe’s performance, as well as the film’s music, look and feel, and Zellweger wasn’t in the film too much to annoy me. I don’t see how anyone could actually “hate” a movie like this, since it’s based on a true-life inspirational tale that comes across very well, but ultimately, for someone like myself, I appreciate films with a little more diversity, originality and surprise, much of which, this movie simply did not have (unlike flashbulbs, of which it had way too many!). It should also have been released in the fall, not the summer.

Note: Director Ron Howard’s dad, Rance, and brother, Clint, both have small roles as a ring announcer and a referee in this film, respectively.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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7:27AM on 01/12/2006
You can't go wrong with movies like these as far as I'm concerned. There's just something about these inspirational sports flicks that make you want to jump up and cheer for the good guy. Sure it's predictable, sure it's got the same basic plot as millions of other movies - but if you're expecting something new, than you obviously didn't know much about the movie going into it.

One of the things that stand out of the movie is the look. Ron Howard does a good job of portraying 1930s New
You can't go wrong with movies like these as far as I'm concerned. There's just something about these inspirational sports flicks that make you want to jump up and cheer for the good guy. Sure it's predictable, sure it's got the same basic plot as millions of other movies - but if you're expecting something new, than you obviously didn't know much about the movie going into it.

One of the things that stand out of the movie is the look. Ron Howard does a good job of portraying 1930s New York/New Jersey. The movie, especially during the boxing scenes, has a yellow tint to it that gives it an old school look that works well for the movie. Throw in the run down look of the Great Depression and the feel of the movie is perfect.

And boy do you get a feel for the Great Depression. The first half of the movie basically shows how tough Jim Braddock had it while trying to feed his family, keep 'em warm, and basically giving up his dignity in order to do so.
The second half of the flick deals with his comeback. It's here where you see the storyline of the relationships between Braddock and his wife, and Braddock and his manager flourish.
The actual boxing matches are shot excellently as well. Howard throws in mixes of 1st POV shots, crowd POV, and you're everday "Rocky" shots that throws the viewer into the ring right next to the boxers. It's a good mix that makes for some exciting scenes.

Another thing that drives the movie is its actors. Russel Crowe proves once more that he can embody any character he wants to; you completely forget the actor and buy into his performance as the down and out boxer on his way to a comeback. Renee Zelwegger's role is cliched as the supporting, yet concerned, wife - but she's a talented actress and it shows in her performance.
But the person who absolutely steals the show is Paul Giamatti. He delivers a performance that is funny, energetic, moving. and without him - I don't think Russell Crowe would've been as good. I wouldn't be suprised to see an Oscar nom (or even gold) for him in February.

The movie is predictable, but it's a sports movie. You watch it to root for the good guy/underdog; it's a great story (based on a true one), the performers deliver, and with Ron Howard's direction - there's little wrong with this flick.
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6:02AM on 08/26/2005

Good

A good film but not a great one. It's predictible and one could see where it's heading just 10 minutes into it. Yet it has strong performances all around and good production values.
And I really, really, really don't understand why everyone is tending to bash Zelwegger. I thought I am going to see one of her very worst performances and I was extremely, positivly surprised by her contained and quiet performance.
An OKAY movie.. yet not as good as it could have been.
A good film but not a great one. It's predictible and one could see where it's heading just 10 minutes into it. Yet it has strong performances all around and good production values.
And I really, really, really don't understand why everyone is tending to bash Zelwegger. I thought I am going to see one of her very worst performances and I was extremely, positivly surprised by her contained and quiet performance.
An OKAY movie.. yet not as good as it could have been.
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12:41AM on 07/28/2005
this was a great movie that didnt get the recognition from the public that it deserved.
this was a great movie that didnt get the recognition from the public that it deserved.
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8:57AM on 07/25/2005

Excellent

Russell Crowe might be the best actor of my lifetime (rivaled only by Mr. Depp). He makes a bad movie watchable, and a good movie great. Here we have a movie that has it all, great production, moving storytelling, and engrossing performances. I think this movie's reception suffered from a bit of Million Dollar Baby hangover, which is ashame because other than the boxing angle they have nothing in common at all. It's the story a depression era boxer (James Braddock) and the hardships he and his
Russell Crowe might be the best actor of my lifetime (rivaled only by Mr. Depp). He makes a bad movie watchable, and a good movie great. Here we have a movie that has it all, great production, moving storytelling, and engrossing performances. I think this movie's reception suffered from a bit of Million Dollar Baby hangover, which is ashame because other than the boxing angle they have nothing in common at all. It's the story a depression era boxer (James Braddock) and the hardships he and his family edure during a dark time in American history. See it.

Misc Thoughts

- Zelleweger is a great actress but i just don't like her, and whats with the squinty, sucking on a lemon look she always has these days?

- Man, the Depression sucked nuts.
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