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'Cinderella Man'

Movie Info


PG-13 for intense boxing violence and some language


June 3, 2005




Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Bruce McGill, Ariel Waller, Paddy Considine


Ron Howard


Universal Pictures


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In providing movie reviews on our site, is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.


'Cinderella Man' Packs Powerful Punch

By Elliott Ryan
Guest Reviewer Cinderella Man, director Ron Howard’s latest film, tells the story of a professional boxer who tries to make the most of his second chance at boxing during the Great Depression. Based on a true story, the film focuses on one man’s courage and determination to keep his family warm, well-fed, and together when many around were not.

I’ve never been a big fan of boxing. And many years passed between the Depression and my birth. So I was totally unfamiliar with the life of James Braddock, portrayed by Russell Crowe (Gladiator). The only things I knew about the story were those that I learned from the trailers for the movie I’d seen over the previous few weeks.

I ended up being glad I didn’t do any research prior to seeing the movie. I found myself caught up in the suspense of whether a has-been boxer would be able to make a comeback after his career had been ruled dead by the sports world.

Much of the plot deals with his relationship with his wife (played by Renée Zellweger) and his children. Like many families during that era, the Braddocks were fighting for survival. Without food, milk or electricity at times, Braddock sees a return to the ring as being the only way to save his family when other employment opportunities proved rare. The film portrays a great message of personal responsibility. Braddock takes his role as spiritual provider for the family very seriously – even when it means risking injury.

Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger in 'Cinderella Man'There is even a storyline thread about the faith of the Braddock family. Although he is a practicing Catholic, James starts to question his faith. That situation is never really resolved in the film. I wonder how it ended up in real life – or if those doubts ever took place at all in real life. After all, Hollywood biopics do usually take creative license with their stories. Either way though, the Braddock’s church and minister are portrayed as positive, encouraging, praying members of the community.

Of course, the movie features many clichés typical of underdog sports movies. Being that this was based on a true story, such clichés are forgivable. After all, the reason that they are clichés may just be that these issues arise in many true life sports “miracle” stories. But the excellent writing, directing, and acting allows this movie to transcend stereotyped clichés and become an excellent example of how good a movie of this genre can be.

While the story is inspiring, this isn’t a family movie. Obviously, a great deal of boxing-related violence takes place in the ring. Young children and those who are squeamish at the sight of blood should probably stay away. In addition, the movie is laced with a few profanities including several uses of the Lord’s name in vain.

Having said that, this is still a movie to consider checking out. If you are a fan of boxing, or sports in general, or even just great human drama, Cinderella Man will deliver an amazing story of a man battling seemingly insurmountable odds and the family that stands beside him. For society at large, this movie may ensure that the name James Braddock is more than just an obscure footnote in boxing history books.

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