Go see Cinderella Man. Quickly. It’s a great movie, so says the Chairman in the movie review below. You may beat me there, so please enjoy it doubly.
But it’s not just about enjoyment . . . this is, after all “Politics in Real Life” here at Reasoned Audacity, so you knew I was going to sneak in the political subtext. Oh, yes.
The Chairman reports that this is a wonderful movie that celebrates family, doesn’t mock people of faith, and is for grown-ups, as well as the coveted teenage boys market. Nice for a change. But according to Box Office Mojo, the movie had a “disappointing” opening:
Director Ron Howard’s $88 million Depression-era drama starring Russell Crowe as boxer James J. Braddock got off to a wobbly start, delivering an estimated $18.6 million at 2,812 venues in fourth place.
So those of us who would like Hollywood to make movies that are inspiring and uplifting need to support this one — we need to send the message that positive, wholesome movies sell theatre tickets.
The following from the Chairman . . .
“You want to go see what?” I said.
“Cinderella Man,” she said.
“But that’s a boxing movie,” I said.
“I know. What time shall I reserve the tickets for?” she said.
Hey, if the birthday girl says she wants to go see a Depression-era boxing movie, I’m gonna take her to see it even if it does star bad boy Russell Crowe who doesn’t do much for me. Well, okay, Gladiator wasn’t bad but . . .
I can’t pinpoint the moment when my reservations about the flick began to fade away. It didn’t have a lot to do with the chemistry between Crowe and Zellweger; she isn’t my cup of tea either. Mostly it had to do with the fact that Crowe played Jim Braddock not as some swaggeringly tough fighter, but as the quintessentially good family man . . . from start to finish . . . without a blemish. This fact alone is probably what allowed me to care about him and his wife and his children.
He made me care because he was just so decent. It left me wondering how a man could be so decent and yet be such a slugger in the ring. He was a ferocious fighter, but I never got the sense that he had any malicious feelings toward his opponents . . . well, maybe Max Baer was the exception.
Boxing was just Braddock’s talent, his profession. Most importantly, it was a means of providing for his family. It never became his life. Braddock’s family was his life.
I understand how his comeback after a year out of the ring earned him the moniker “Cinderella Man,” but given the story told by this movie, it might more aptly have been titled, The Passion of the Family Man. At the outset we are shown how injury and the Depression stripped Braddock of nearly everything: his career, his home, everything but his character and values. We see the family’s desperate fight to survive and stay together during the depression . . . and their decency remains intact when everything else lies in ruin. And we care about them.
I became so gripped by the story that I lost sight of what the actors were doing. The cast was totally believable so they never got in the way of the story — some of the credit for this goes to the director, Ron Howard. I would never have believed that Russell Crowe could have acted the role of Braddock with such a low-keyed, self-effacing dignity.
There are several great scenes in this movie that will always stick with me. But one scene is particularly powerful. On the comeback trail, Braddock is asked by a reporter: “What are you fighting for?”