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Sunday, March 12, 2006

cinderella man

In keeping with the movie review thing we have going here, I finally saw Cinderella Man on DVD with my wife. Wow, this was one piece of great movie making, and certainly the best product I've ever seen Ron Howard deliver. Howard's depiction of urban life during the Great Depression, which he achieves mainly by focusing on just a couple of families, was more effective than most documentary footage I've seen on the subject. Even though you know how this story has to end, it holds a surprising amount of tension throughout. At about 2.5 hours long, it never drags. And it's quite refreshing to see a film about of a champion boxer who was a decent family kind of guy (as opposed to, say, Scorsese's "Raging Bull", which starred Robert De Niro as sleazebag and wife-beater Jake La Motta, and was a vastly over-rated film in my opinion).

Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger were great in their roles, and Paul Giamatti as manager Joe Gould was perfect, as if he was born to play that role. Granted, I know nothing of the factual story of Jim Braddock so I don't know where the story in the movie deviates from real life, but this was a movie after all and not a documentary. I especially liked the way Braddock returns his welfare money when he is able. Can you imagine that happening in today's entitlement society?

As in all boxing movies, the ring scenes are condensed and dramatized so it's a non-stop punching fest, with every blow landing on its target, unlike real boxing where boxers dance around, miss a lot, and end up locked around each other half the time. Given that, though, the action was extremely well done in a clear and realistic way, no fast-cutting like most of today's action movies where you can't see what's going on.

My wife, who pretty much hates boxing, also loved the movie, though she turned her head away during some of the fights. Overall, I can recommend this movie as great entertainment for everybody except small children.


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