Saturday, July 09, 2005

Movie Review: Cinderella Man

March Hare Rating System: Run. Do not walk. Run to your local movie megaplex, buy a ticket, and see this movie before it disappears into the dreck of the Summer Movie Season.

It's that good.

WARNING: The fight scenes are very difficult to watch. This is not "Rocky." This is so well choreographed that I winced and cringed at every blow. I know why Mae Braddock stayed home.

This is the story of Jim Braddock, a light-heavyweight fighter during the '20's. He's unusual in that he's a family man who lost his money because of the Crash, not because of high living. His wife, Mae, stands by and with him, through good times and the bad. And the bad times are pretty low.

The scenes of the Depression are powerful. Jim's fight is not just in the ring, against an opponent he can hit, but against forces he can't see. He fights to keep his family together and to keep their values intact. He and Mae don't always agree, but they work out their problems together.

Like "Seabiscuit," the casting of the main characters is impeccable. Russell Crowe continues to impress me with his skill. He truly becomes the character he is portraying. Renee Zellweger, unfortunately, doesn't have a lot of screen time as Mae, but she is also convincing. Paul Giamatta plays the role of Jim Braddock's friend and fight manager and manages to be a "wheeler-dealer" and straight-up guy at the same time. And Ron Howard's directing and editing are subtle and wonderful.

Hubs and I saw this without the kids, which was a good thing. The fight scenes are definitely intense and would probably be too much for DD#2, who is almost 12. The other kids weren't interested in the subject matter and chose not to come. It's too bad because this movie has a lot to teach about family, about being a responsible husband and father, about integrity. And also about how the Depression affected people and communities and how they came together and supported one another.

The problem is this movie is not a Box Office Hit, despite Russell Crowe, and is in danger of disappearing quickly.