Movie Review: Cinderella Man (2005)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2005 movie starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.

Synopsis: Believing he is washed up, former star boxer Jim Braddock is stripped of his New York boxing license during the height of the Great Depression and is forced to scrounge for work and beg for money in order to care for his family. Things quickly change, however, when he is given a one-time reprieve of his boxing ban, scores an upset over a topped-ranked fighter and finds himself on an improbable run toward the heavyweight championship.

Review

Even though I'm still recovering a bit from an illness, I tried to take advantage of the nice weather yesterday and get some things done outside. However, I ended up needing to take a bit of a break yesterday evening and, when I did, I came across this film on one of our movie channels.

I've seen this movie before, shortly after it first came out, and didn't remember a whole lot about it. But, since I like the Rocky movies, I figured a boxing film would be a nice choice. And, as it turns out, this movie was a whole lot more than that.

The thing I like about this movie is, even though it is about real-life boxer James Braddock and his impossible title run, the writers didn't focus solely on that. Instead, they took full advantage of the fact this story takes place during the height of the Great Depression and do a great job using his story to bring that era to life.

The one thing, in particular, that really stood out for me was the way he struggled to keep his family together. Food portions were small, the bills were all past due and a day's pay depended on him randomly being picked out of a crowd (and being forced to hide a broken hand in the process). Seeing his little girl (Ariel Waller) ask for seconds at breakfast and being told there wasn't enough food was as heartbreaking as it would have been had I needed to tell one of my own daughters that.

Even though the movie was about Braddock (Crowe), I think the character that really stood out for me was his wife, Mae (Zellweger). There were times when I really felt sorry for her. She hated her husband's chosen career and had some very valid points about what would happen if he got seriously hurt. Yet, because she was a woman in a time when women had no real rights, she had no other choice but to support him.

At the same time, there was a lot to love about her loyalty to him. She was quick to stand up for him when needed and, even when things were at their bleakest, stayed with him. While the story may have been about him, I think she is the one that really made this movie memorable.

Final Opinion

This is a film that really won me over when I watched it this weekend. While it's a good boxing movie, it also has a whole lot more going for it and is a film I would definitely recommend taking the time to watch if you haven't seen it before.
My Grade: A

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Updated: 04/10/2017, StevenHelmer
 
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