Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
Age of Consent
Make Ads Not Law
Nice One, Workers!
Dog Eat Dog
That Cinderella Fella
He's lacing up the gloves, putting in his mouth guard, and carrying the hopes of the people in the grim days of the Great Depression. They're listening to the fight in the pub and in the church. He is carrying the hopes of people who probably don't have too much else to celebrate. As he steps into the ring the chant of "Braddock, Braddock" rises through the crowd.
Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) has risen up through injury and poverty to get to this point. The film starts with Braddock enjoying some moderate success as a boxer, but injury and a ban from boxing coincides with the crash of the stock market. Pretty soon there's no money to pay the bills or buy food. The family struggles. Braddock's wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), sends her sick children away with family. This is the cruellest blow Braddock is dealt; a direct hit to his pride. He's forced to go to back the boxing establishment which rejected him to beg for money.
His manager offers Braddock another shot in the ring. What follows is what we've all been waiting for - Rusty beating people up. A series of upset victories - helped by the strength he's gained working on the docks - earn Braddock the moniker Cinderella Man. They also earn him a shot at the title against Max Baer, an opponent who loves nothing better than dislodging his opponents' brains.
What's great about the movie is that it makes you feel that it is important that Braddock wins. With people doing it tough, they need an underdog to win; you can sense it. The combination of Crowe's acting and Ron Howard's directing create a people's champion worth barracking for.
The tough times of the depression create a vacuum for heroes to rise up. The people need heroes to give them hope - whether its Braddock in a boxing ring or FDR in the White House. People latch onto them for good or ill. The desperation comes across strongly in this movie.
Cinderella Man deals in emotion and as such a few things fall through the cracks. There's no fantastic plot or particularly fantastic characters. The accuracy has been questioned, particularly the portrayal of Baer as a murdering animal. An interesting sub-plot involving Braddock's friend on the docks who believes "we've got to organse" is only dealt with on a superficial level. And Renee Zellweger is in it - enough said.
But the rest of it is a good ride.
***1/2 You'll come out of it shadow boxing.
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