Directed by: Ron Howard
Premise: The true story of Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) who rose from Depression-era breadlines to become a contender for the heavyweight boxing championship.
What Works: The overall structure of the film works well. The filmmakers have wisely chosen not to make this film exclusively about boxing but rather focus on the life of Braddock and his family and their attempts to makes ends meet. There are some very nice moments between Braddock and his wife (Renee Zellweger) and their children (Connor Price, Arial Walker, and Patrick Louis). The most interesting relationship is between Braddock and his manager (Paul Giamatti), as it addresses two men who have a distinct social class difference but are able to relate on other levels.
What Doesn’t: The story follows the Horatio Alger plotline often seen in films like Rocky and Million Dollar Baby. In the context of a boxing film this is a worn cliché. The fight scenes borrow a lot from Raging Bull and the Rocky sequels and do not really present anything new to the genre. Thankfully it does avoid prolonged training montages.
Bottom Line: Cinderella Man is an entertaining and rousing film. It never really gets beyond the conventions of its genre but there is a worthwhile story here. This film should be enjoyed by fans of Russell Crowe, Ron Howard, and the boxing genre.
Episode: #54 (June 5, 2005)