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Cinderella Man Cinderella Man

Starring Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, and Paddy Constantine
Directed by: Ron Howard

Soundtrack Review




Bluntly speaking? What's not to love about Cinderella Man? You've got a director extraordinaire manipulating superb actors, aside an ensemble of top-at-their-craft filmmakers commingling their skills…of course the ten billion hours of in-the-ring boxing uber-gory every-punch-hits-a-nerve scenes were a bit much, and may make you reach for the Tums© before Cinderella Man's climatic conclusion…but who's picking? After all, you get to again watch Russell Crowe be master and commander of what it is he does so well.

Story goes…James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) was on his way to the top of the boxing world in the '20s. He couldn't be stopped.

But then along came the Crash and the Great Depression and it walloped him, and his dreams, up side the head like a one-two KO.

His loving wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and his adorable family (Connor Price, Ariel Waller, and Patrick Louis) had to move from the comfort of a well-to-do home, into a basement slum apartment - though "apartment" is a strong word here…cubicle of dank wood and downtrodden darkness is more properly descriptive. Shudder.

Braddock was washed up, a has been, an ex-parrot. Where he once stood before thousands of cheering fans at Madison Square Garden, he's was now reduced to being just one of the hundreds of men begging, every morning, to get picked to work on the docks for the day.

It's a dark time.

Meanwhile. his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) never stops believing in the down-spirited deflated Braddock - even after Braddock loses his license to fight, Gould and his finagling verbal abilities gets Jim a one-more-time fight.

And in true "come back kid" style, the Seabiscuit of Boxing, raging Bulldog Braddock runs with the opportunity and once again rises to the top, this time very aware of the stakes (or lack of steaks) if he doesn't.

The film is based on Braddock's true tale…embellished for film as they do, but still an American hero story of a great man who loved his country, and family, and against all odds came back from the gutter.

The performances by Crowe, Zellweger, Giamatti and the gaggle of Braddock kids are spectacular.

Russell Crowe's back baby. I mean back as in career-wise…as well as referring to the beauty of the multiple shirtless shots of a fit as a Stradivarius bodied manlyberry steamship of beef he is in the film. As James J. Braddock, Russ reminds us his gladiator-like acting skills are as sharp as ever, and yeah, we missed him.

Renee Zellweger fits wonderfully into this whole post-flapper world. She's got the look. And her Mae is a sweet strong little soul that "stands by her man," without being too push-overish.

Paul Giamatti, whom I adore, stole every scene he graced as the fast talkin' Joe Gould. And that's sayin' sumthin' in this company. Maybe tomorrow Jimmy he wont be ROBBED. Ahem.

And Craig Bierko, who plays an ass of a boxer Max Baer, nails the slithering despicable jerko perfectly - while being purrfectly swell on the man lovin' retina as well. As an added Tthespian treat, mega-talent Paddy Constantine shows as Braddock's revolutionary pal, Mike Wilson.

The Howard family makes their usual cameos - Clint shows as a wise-guy voiced referee, and Rance, aka Dad, is one of the boxing promoter mucky mucks, as director Ron Howard's beautiful mind, once again, delivers a remarkable film. Here he captures the feeling of America during one of its darkest decades through the every-guy Braddock's eyes. Though, Ronnie needs a slight handslap, as it seemed as if Cinderella Man has bit of a bipolar complex; its violence vs. saccharin feel. And the boxing scenes could/should be edited just a tad… it was as if they were real-time events for those of us not too into pugilists at their craft. That aside, enjoy.

Snack recommendation: T-Bone steaks, whole milk, and your Tums©

 


 

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