Posted by LiveFor on June 24, 2008
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti
Running Time: 144 minutes
A boxing movie based upon the life of Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) who could have been a contender but had to give up his dream after breaking his hand during a fight. To make matters worse the Great Depression kicked in, he lost everything and had to work on the docks to support his wife (the hamster faced Renee Zellweger) and 3 kids. Then, due to a cancellation from another boxer, his manager (Paul Giamatti) gets him another boxing match. He goes up against the number two heavyweight contender and, to the surprise of everyone, beats the crap out of him and becomes an inspiration to the disillusioned American public. This then leads him to confronting the World Heavyweight champion, Max Baer (Craig Bierko), who is said to have killed two men in the ring.
That this is a Ron Howard movie is as plain as plain can be. He ticks all the right boxes and pulls all the right strings to make you totally buy into the character and the crappy times he goes through and that’s no bad thing. He makes good, solid movies. The Great Depression truly was a bad time for most people and the way they kept going was truly something special. The scenes with Jim Braddock and his family just eking out a living while everything is against them show exactly what he was fighting for when he got his second chance. The boxing scenes are also done well with the flashes of the news cameras working well for the white outs experienced after a blow to the head. However, they don’t have the immediacy of the fight scenes from Raging Bull, but still have a slightly more realistic approach to those of the Rocky movies (don’t get me wrong, I really like Rocky as well).
Russell Crowe is brilliant as James Braddock. Often his real life seems to overshadow his acting work and it is easy to forget how good an actor he can be. Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Shoot ‘em Up, American Splendour) is once again brilliant. As for the lollipop headed, squinty eyed, perpetually pouting Renee Zelleweger, she just gets on my nerves in every movie she is in, but I managed to overlook that and enjoy the film regardless. I just wish she would stop pouting!
Craig Bierko as Max Baer is almost unrecognizable from his previous roles in The Thirteenth Floor and The Long Kiss Goodnight (he was also Dave Lister in the US remake of Red Dwarf). He makes the final fight all the more thrilling and you are cheering Jim Braddock on to beat the living crap out of Baer.
Like Seabiscuit this movie gives you a snapshot of the Great Depression and the people who suffered through it. Like Seabiscuit it also shows how one thing (person, horse, etc) could bring hope to the people in the most difficult of times.
Well worth checking out.
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