Another free movie that I own through the ultraviolet account, though for a while I used to own the actual DVD. See, years ago I would loan out movies to my brothers every now and then. One day, my brother Blake borrowed Saved from me and then ended up getting it stuck in a DVD player that no longer worked. Needless to say, I was not too happy about that but Blake offered to let me have his favorite movie, Cinderella Man, until he got my movie back to me. I accepted his deal, thinking he would try to get my movie back to me as soon as possible but I was wrong because it took several years before I finally got my movie back. So I found it very funny that I ended up with my own copy shortly after he finally got his copy back. Now let’s see if it is any good.
The plot: [was watching the movie but also dealing with some rambunctious nieces so I couldn’t really do the plot review like I normally would so I just copied the one from Wikipedia]
James J. Braddock is an Irish-American boxer from New Jersey, formerly a light heavyweight contender, who is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring. This is both a relief and a burden to his wife, Mae. She cannot bring herself to watch the violence of his chosen profession, yet she knows they will not have enough income without his boxing. As the United States enters the Great Depression, Braddock does manual labor as a longshoreman to support his family, even with his injured hand. Unfortunately, he cannot get work every day. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock’s longtime manager and friend, Joe Gould, offers him a chance to fill in for just one night and earn cash. The fight is against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin. Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believes that while his right hand was broken, he became more proficient with his left hand, improving his in-ring ability. Despite Mae’s objections, Braddock takes up Gould’s offer to return to the ring. Mae resents this attempt by Gould to profit from her husband’s dangerous livelihood, until she discovers that Gould and his wife also have been devastated by hard times. With a shot at the heavyweight championship held by Max Baer a possibility, Braddock continues to win. Out of a sense of pride, he uses a portion of his prize money to pay back money to the government given to him while unemployed. When his rags to riches story gets out, the sportswriter Damon Runyon dubs him “The Cinderella Man”, and before long Braddock comes to represent the hopes and aspirations of the American public struggling with the Depression. A title fight against Baer comes his way. Braddock is a 10-to-1 underdog. Mae is terrified because Baer, the champ, is a vicious man who reportedly has killed at least two men in the ring. He is so destructive that the fight’s promoter, James Johnston, forces both Braddock and Gould to watch a film of Baer in action, just so he can maintain later that he warned them what Braddock was up against. Braddock demonstrates no fear. The arrogant Baer attempts to intimidate him, even taunting Mae in public that her man might not survive. When he says this, she becomes so angry that she throws a drink at him. She is unable to attend the fight at the Madison Square Garden Bowl or even to listen to it on the radio. On June 13, 1935, in one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Braddock defeats the seemingly invincible Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world. An epilogue reveals that Braddock would lose his title to Joe Louis and later worked on the building of the Verrazano Bridge, owning and operating heavy machinery on the docks where he worked during the Depression, and that he and Mae used his boxing income to buy a house, where they spent the rest of their lives.
Cinderella Man met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.” Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays the neighbor Sara Wilson, is the granddaughter of the real Jimmy Braddock. She is the daughter of his daughter Rosemarie, who is portrayed by Ariel Waller in the film. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $108.5 million off of an $88 million budget, and earned 3 Academy Award nominations.
So, while I don’t mind watching sports movies, I will admit that they are generally not my preferred genre of films. And when it comes to boxing movies, I don’t usually care about them one way or another. That being said, this was a pretty good movie. I thought the acting was pretty good, with Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger doing good jobs in their roles as Jimmy and Mae respectively. I also liked Paul Giamatti (Gould) and thought he did deserve the Oscar nod for his role as Joe Gould, while Craig Bierko (Baer) did a pretty good job as the foil to highlight Braddock’s rise to glory. The story was pretty good, especially since it was based on real events. I thought Ron Howard did a good job in showcasing the hope that people had that their lives can get better; which was something that the average person was truly desperate to cling too during the Great Depression. The drama in the movie had a very real feel to it, which made the story telling even better, while the fight scenes during the boxing matches were well choreographed to add to the mix. A good movie and one that is well worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5