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Cinderella Man
8 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Ron Howard

Written By:
Cliff Hollingsworth, C. Gaby Mitchell, Akiva Goldsman

Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, David Huband, Connor Price, Linda Kash, Nicholas Campbell, Chuck Shamata, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ariel Waller, Gene Pyrz, Patrick Louis

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Cinderella Man (2005)
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Movie Review by Tony
March 31st, 2006

When I first viewed "Cinderella Man", back in June of 2005, I had told everyone it was the best American film of the year and my favorite film of 2005. When I saw it again in July on my birthday with my father, I stood by that claim. Now that it's November, almost December, and having seen more movies, I still stand by that claim. I always hear from my grandparents, dad, and other old and grumpy relatives "they don't make movies like they used to". Look no further, then "Cinderella Man.". Movies like they used to make them.

Old fashioned movies. They don't have a lot of style, flash, huge special effects, or noise. Give us a character, someone to care about, give them a struggle or story, and let it run for 2 hours. People like stories. It is why we go to the movies in the first place. To have a story and watch it follow through. Give us a reason to care, be involved, and watch. That is all we as moviegoers ask for. Movie making is simple in that sense. Just follow theory.

Ron Howard and Russell Crowe struck Oscar gold with 2001's "A Beautiful Mind". Which was a semi biopic with Crowe playing the lead. Now in 2005, with "Cinderella Man", they are back with another Oscar level biopic about James J. Braddock, a depression era boxer. I'm convinced, you put Crowe and Howard together on any movie, and you have a classic. They are that good together.

The movie starts off with Crowe in the ring, c*cky and a winner after a fight. He seems to be living a decent life. Makes money, has a wife (Renee Zellweger) and a loyal friend/manager in Paul Giamatti. Then we fast forward to the 1930's.

Braddock broke his right hand, lost his license, can't fight anymore and like so many Americans fell on hard times during the great depression. He was unable to pay his bills, had to go on Public Relief, his family was in danger, and his kids were sick. He had hit rock bottom.

Renee Zellweger and Ariel Waller in Universal Pictures' Cinderella Man

The movie runs 2 hours and 24 minute and sometimes that might seem like a chore for some moviegoers. But the reason we are able to sit through it and it never gets boring is Russell Crowe's brilliant performance. Russell Crowe is an actor who truly becomes his parts. He steps into the role, becomes that person, thinks like that person, acts like that person, and IS that person.

Chris Rock said at the 2005 Oscars that for any period piece you should get Russell Crowe. One of the few intelligent things he said and is true. He plays a man going through tough times, but never makes him simple. The key in Crowe's performance is allowing us to believe him as an underdog. Crowe has played some tough guys in movies such as The Gladiator and Master in Commander, but here he convinces us he is an underdog.

Not to mention, a strong supporting cast as Renee Zellweger as his deeply loyal wife who refuses to give up on Jim. She is an old school wife. She stands by her man in good times and in bad. Paul Giamatti is wonderful as his manager, who is not shady or slimy, but really cares about Jim. The thing about this movie that is nice is that it's set in a tough time, but none of the characters are cynical.

Braddock gets one last fight as a replacement and is never expected to win. But wouldn't you know it, he actually wins and puts together a comeback. He is then set to face the heavyweight champion Max Baer, who has killed two men in the ring before from his brutal blows. Braddock is a fighter who has a lot of heart and wins his fights by never giving up. He's not a dominant fighter or brutal. He gets by heart and will.

Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti in Universal Pictures' Cinderella Man

The scenery is fantastic here. From the clothes, houses, and background, you fell as if you stepped foot right into the depression era. Ron Howard does not get stylish here, nor is it really needed. He has confidence in his actors, and the story, to just let it play and not get too stylish to take away from it. The movie really tells two stories. A great love story/drama with Crowe/Zellweger, and then the last half is a great boxing movie. The final fight scenes are sure to keep you involved up until the last round. He takes you inside the ring and you get hit blow by blow and you care about every second of the fight. Since you have invested so much time and you care about this family and about Braddock.

Great actors, great story, great director, and a great, great movie here with "Cinderella Man." My favorite film of 2005. Overlooked at the box office, please check it out when it comes to DVD, December 6th. You won't regret it.

Tony Farinella

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