One of my favorite activities is going to movies. I love eating big tub of buttery popcorn and watching a movie on the big screen. Before kids arrived, this is something Marathon Girl and I did quite often. But since the arrival of our two kids, our movie theatre time has been cut dramatically. (This isn't a complaint. I'm simply stating the facts.) To get our movie fix, I make a weekly trek to the local Hollywood Video to find something Marathon Girl and I can watch on the weekends. The one advantage that renting movies has is that through word of mouth, you can have a good idea which movies are worth renting and which ones aren't. People kept telling me good things about Cinderella Man but when it became available to rent, I always passed it up. The reason for this is that I'm not a fan of boxing movies. Most of them follow the same formula: a boxer hits on hard times, catches a break, wins the big fight and lives happily ever after. (Unless you're making the awful Million Dollar Baby in which case the movie ends when your manager helps you kill yourself.) Knowing how boxing movies tend to go, I didn't think Cinderella Man would be worth my time.
But when I went to rent a movie for New Year's Eve, I found my options limited. Sure, the video store had tons of movies in stock, but after walking through the store once, I realized that it was Cinderella Man or watching Dick Clark and Times Square count down to the New Year. (My other movie options were crapola flicks such as Stealth, The Cave, The Dukes of Hazzard, etc.)
Fortunately, Cinderella Man was nothing like I thought it would be. In fact, it's not really a boxing movie at all. It's really a story about a man who happens to be a boxer. The main story is about Jim Braddock's (Russell Crowe) relationship to with his wife (RenÃ©e Zellweger) and children. You see real emotions from a man who is doing his best to support his family during the depression.
The writers did a good job of creating real, complex characters your actually care about. Several times when they're showing the boxing scenes they'll cut to family members or friends who are listening to the fight on the radio. And you don't care that you're missing a couple of punches because you care enough about the characters that you want to see their reactions to how the fight is going.
The boxing scenes are well filmed and you're never left in doubt as to what actually took place during the fight. Ron Howard did an outstanding job directing it.
Cinderella Man is an excellent movie whether or not you're a boxing fan. It's a story of hope and love, and a couple that will do anything to make their marriage work and keep their family together no matter how difficult the circumstances.
(Watch this movie and then watch Million Dollar Baby and you'll realize what a mistake Hollywood made awarding the later the best picture Oscar last year.)
Cinderella Man 4 stars (out of 4)