PG-13 for intense boxing
violence and some language
June 3, 2005
Russell Crowe, Renée
Zellweger, Bruce McGill, Ariel Waller, Paddy Considine
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'Cinderella Man' Packs Powerful
By Elliott Ryan
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
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
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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