Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, and Paddy Constantine
by: Ron Howard
speaking? What's not to love about Cinderella Man? You've got a director
extraordinaire manipulating superb actors, aside an ensemble of top-at-their-craft
filmmakers commingling their skills
of course the ten billion hours of in-the-ring
boxing uber-gory every-punch-hits-a-nerve scenes were a bit much, and may make
you reach for the Tums© before Cinderella Man's
but who's picking? After all, you get to again watch
Russell Crowe be master and commander of what it is he does so well.
James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) was on his way to the top of the boxing
world in the '20s. He couldn't be stopped.
then along came the Crash and the Great Depression and it walloped him, and his
dreams, up side the head like a one-two KO.
loving wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and his adorable family (Connor Price, Ariel
Waller, and Patrick Louis) had to move from the comfort of a well-to-do home,
into a basement slum apartment - though "apartment" is a strong word
cubicle of dank wood and downtrodden darkness is more properly descriptive.
was washed up, a has been, an ex-parrot. Where he once stood before thousands
of cheering fans at Madison Square Garden, he's was now reduced to being just
one of the hundreds of men begging, every morning, to get picked to work on the
docks for the day.
a dark time.
his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) never stops believing in the down-spirited
deflated Braddock - even after Braddock loses his license to fight, Gould and
his finagling verbal abilities gets Jim a one-more-time fight.
in true "come back kid" style, the Seabiscuit of Boxing, raging Bulldog
Braddock runs with the opportunity and once again rises to the top, this time
very aware of the stakes (or lack of steaks) if he doesn't.
film is based on Braddock's true tale
embellished for film as they do, but
still an American hero story of a great man who loved his country, and family,
and against all odds came back from the gutter.
performances by Crowe, Zellweger, Giamatti and the gaggle of Braddock kids are
Russell Crowe's back baby. I mean back as in career-wise
as well as referring
to the beauty of the multiple shirtless shots of a fit as a Stradivarius bodied
manlyberry steamship of beef he is in the film. As James J. Braddock, Russ reminds
us his gladiator-like acting skills are as sharp as ever, and yeah, we missed
Zellweger fits wonderfully into this whole post-flapper world. She's got the look.
And her Mae is a sweet strong little soul that "stands by her man,"
without being too push-overish.
Giamatti, whom I adore, stole every scene he graced as the fast talkin' Joe
Gould. And that's sayin' sumthin' in this company. Maybe tomorrow Jimmy he wont
be ROBBED. Ahem.
Craig Bierko, who plays an ass of a boxer Max Baer, nails the slithering despicable
jerko perfectly - while being purrfectly swell on the man lovin' retina as well.
As an added Tthespian treat, mega-talent Paddy Constantine shows as Braddock's
revolutionary pal, Mike Wilson.
Howard family makes their usual cameos - Clint shows as a wise-guy voiced referee,
and Rance, aka Dad, is one of the boxing promoter mucky mucks, as director Ron
Howard's beautiful mind, once again, delivers a remarkable film. Here he captures
the feeling of America during one of its darkest decades through the every-guy
Braddock's eyes. Though, Ronnie needs a slight handslap, as it seemed as if Cinderella
Man has bit of a bipolar complex; its violence vs. saccharin feel. And the
boxing scenes could/should be edited just a tad
it was as if they were real-time
events for those of us not too into pugilists at their craft. That aside, enjoy.
recommendation: T-Bone steaks, whole milk, and your Tums©