Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

Cinderella Man

Title: Cinderella Man
Year: 2005
Director: Ron Howard
Starring Cast: Russell Crowe, Renee Zwelleger, Paul Giamatti
Rated: PG-13

Reel Reviews Rating:

There are times when film companies take risks that pay off, such as allowing then-unknown director Peter Jackson to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to film 3 movies at the same time over the course of 7 years.

Then there are times when they do not.

Take the film Cinderella Man, a quiet little feel good film. You have three talented actors (Russell Crowe, Renee Zwelleger, and the wondeful Paul Giamatti), a great director (Ron Howard), and a simple plot (with the magic words “based on a true story”). It’s one of those inspirational types of movies that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The kind that makes tear up just a little. In short, it screamed OSCAR.

Then why in God’s name was it released at the beginning of the summer?

Why was it forced to compete with action packed movies such as Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and of all things, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith?

Were they asking for a death wish at the box office?

I don’t know what they were thinking at the time. Perhaps they figured that people would appreciate a little break from the loud, action blockbusters. Perhaps they thought that they would have much less competition in the Oscar race since it was released among movies of a non-Oscar worthy genre (unless you count Special Effects and Costume Design). Whatever the reason was, it hurt this movie bad. Although critics praised this movie, Cinderella Man barely made 50$ million at the box office.

Now with Oscar nominating season drawing near, film execs need to remind people about Cinderella Man. After all, summer was so long ago. Before Thanksgiving, I heard on the radio that the movie was on “limited release” in theatres- before the DVD comes out tommorow.

But enough of my prattering about that. What’s the film about anyway?

For those of you who didn’t see it, Cinderella Man is based on the true story of aging boxer Jim Braddock (played by phone tosser Russell Crowe). Like most people in the United States during that time, Braddock’s career plummets when the Great Depression hits. Suddenly he and his family are penniless, and Braddock is forced to take a number of low paying jobs in order to survive.

Suddenly, due to a small stroke of luck, Braddock finds himself in the ring again. He does fairly well, and slowly he regains his confidence as a prizefighter. But can he stand against the current heavyweight champion of the world, a big mofo said to have put two previous opponents in the morgue?

I thought that the film was relatively ok, but too sappy. There are so many scenes involving Braddock’s family’s plight that you just want to scream, “Ok, I get it! They’re poor! The kids are hungry!”. Sheesh. Yes Ron, we took history class in high school. We know that the Great Depression was awful for everybody.

The acting was, not surprisingly, great. Although he’s such a dick in real life, Russell Crowe is a terrific actor. There is one scene, in which Braddock swallows his pride and begs for money, which I thought was really sad and touching. You really feel bad for this guy. But as far as favorite actors go, that prize goes to Paul Giamatti. he played Braddock’s manager, a tough but kindhearted man who is more than what you see on the outside. As for Renee Zwelleger, I thought she was ok, but definitely not memorable. She didn’t really “wow” me, and anyone could have played her role as Braddock’s wife.

If you want a feel-good family movie, won’t mind the sappiness, and the predictable ending, go rent Cinderella Man when it comes out next week. If you’re a Russell Crowe fan (like my mom), buy the movie and add it to your Russell Crowe collection. However, for everyone else, I suggest that you save your money and wait until it comes out on HBO.


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December 5, 2005 - Posted by | Biopic, Drama, Sports

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