The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Cinderella Man

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Judy Thorburn

Cinderella Man

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“CINDERELLA MAN" – SCORES A KNOCKOUT

I have said it before and I will repeat - I don’t think director Ron Howard, has ever made a bad movie. He consistently puts out well-crafted, heartfelt, good movies that are audience pleasers. He’s done it again with Cinderella Man, an uplifting biopic that reunites Howard with “A Beautiful Mind” writer Akiva Goldsman and its star, Russell Crowe, which proves to be winning collaboration.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

Its not like we haven’t seen dozens of boxing films or movies about underdogs who come from behind to win big in the end.  Cinderella Man fits into both those categories.  Rocky comes to mind for sure, but Cinderella Man also offers similarities with Seabiscuit, the film released two years ago, about a thoroughbred race horse who became an unlikely symbol of victory during one of the worst times in our nation’s history.  Like Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man is the true story of another underdog during the same era of the Depression who overcame the odds to become an inspirational hero for the American people.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

I wasn’t yet born in the thirties, but boxing fans and older Americans who were around during the Depression are most likely familiar with the story of James J. Braddock, the down on his luck boxer who rose from the soup lines to number one heavyweight contender defeating the champ, Max Baer.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

The story opens in 1928 when James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) known in the boxing world as “The Bulldog of Bergen”, was an up and coming heavy weight contender. At that time he was making enough money as a boxer to support his loving wife Mae (Renee Zellwegger) and their three kids in a nice little house back home in New Jersey.  Fast forward to 1933. It’s the middle of the Great Depression and Braddock has lost everything he owned.  We see him and his family living in a gloomy tenement basement apartment barely getting by.  Things go from bad to worse when Braddock’s career appears to be over as a result of a broken hand that upsets his performance in the ring. With his license revoked, Braddock turns to working on the docks in hopes of feeding his family and paying the bills. But when there aren’t enough shifts to work and enough money to pay for the heat, Mae is forced to send the children to relatives at Jim’s dismay, a turn that causes Braddock to apply for government relief and to go as far as begging for a handout.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

A second chance comes when former manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti, a deserving, sure bet for an Oscar, especially since he was ignored in 2004 for his outstanding work in Sideways) shows up with an offer of $250 (a lot of money for that day) for Braddock to be a last minute replacement for someone that backed out of a fight. An unexpected, shocking victory over Corn Griffith, after only a day’s notice and no time to train, leads to more fights and the eventual battle for the title against heavyweight champ Max Baer, a dirty fighter known to have killed two opponents in the ring.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

As I see it this movie is one of the best of year, so far.  First off, the excellent script is co-written by Goldman and Cliff Hollingsworth who know how to tell a great story, and are fortunate to have reliable and gifted director Ron Howard at the helm delivering the on screen goods.  The exquisite production design by Wynn Thomas is so authentic looking that it captures every detail of the realistically recreated environment of the 30’s down to jewelry, knick knacks, clothing and accessories, architecture, cars, street scenes and what have you, and up to the Madison Square Garden Marquee.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

Needless to say, the cast is superb led by Russell Crowe in a brilliant portrayal of the complex multi faceted, sports legend that outside of the ring was a loving family man and genuine human being who instilled ethical values on to his children as well as sharing both a strong emotional and physical connection with his supportive wife (played with quiet fortitude by Zellwegger), who refused to watch him fight.  And Craig Bierko (who must have put on about forty pounds or so to be in fighting shape here) is commanding, grabbing attention as Max Baer, the ladies man/aggressive champ who was eager to let Braddock know he was risking his life by going ahead with the upcoming fight.   Word is that there was no friendship between Bierko and Crowe on the set.  Both had dated Meg Ryan some years ago and their dislike for their each other might have added that extra “spark” into their fight sequence, if you know what I mean.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

The exciting fight, with many camera angles from the boxer’s point of view, are literally in your face with brutal force, will have you on the edge of your seat with every excruciating blow, and has you cheering at the victory.  The depiction of the climactic fifteen round match between Baer and Braddock rates with some of the best slugfests ever seen on the big screen.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Cinderella Man, boxing, in the ring, Max Baer, James Braddock, Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth, Brian Grazer, Penny Marshall, Todd Hallowell, Salvatore Totino, Thomas Newman, depression era, poverty, souplines

Braddock was dubbed “Cinderella Man” by sportswriter Damon Runyon because of his fairy tale rise from struggling poor fighter to champ of the world.  By pulling no punches with its uplifting true-life story this great summer movie will hit you in the right place that counts, your heart.  Score one more TKO for Ron Howard.