Just back from watching the latest Russell Crowe movie - The Cinderella Man. I am a fan of most movies directed by Ron Howard and this movie isn't very far away from his usual style - a feel good movie that celebrates undying spirit and courage and where the journey is in the means and not in the end. A few of his movies are - A Beautiful mind, Apollo 13, The Alamo, The Missing etc. Look up IMDB for more info.
I'll be back with a more detailed review a little later.
I looked up some reviews on Yahoo! Movies and found that I was in concurrence with most reviewers and critics that this movie was moving and like most feel good movies that celebrate undying human spirit reassures you that good still prevails in the face of adversity. Some of them have said that it is an overdose and 'Howard's relentless and flatfooted attack on our sympathies slips into monotony'. I tend to disagree here, I definitely think that despite being a movie doused in all things good and beautiful, it largely stays away from being saccharine and overly optimistic.
Lets take a closer look at what I mean by Howard's movies are those in which the journey is in the means and not in the end. Let us look at the storyline in a very generic way - the story is about an underdog who, keeping in line with the feel good part of the story, comes back from behind and proves himself to the world by beating the current champion. But the story is not about winning right at the end, its about his trials and tribulations as he tries to come out of the hole he is in, all the time giving hope to those who are down in the dumps too that they too can overcome the circumstances if they tried. It is as though all those people were winning over their problems through him, he gives them hope to fight. I will admit a slight degree of sentimentality on the part of Howard during this process but it does fade away in the 'big picture'. The vehicle our hero chooses to do all these wonderful things is boxing.
We are introduced to James J. Braddock, a tough boxer who fights with honesty and where the opponent can see his (Braddock's) fists coming. The once successful Braddock slips into poverty along with most of America during the great depression. This is the setting for Howard's attempt to emphasize all things good and beautiful - the depression and all the people it pushed into poverty and crime. In the midst of this 'every man for himself' world, we have Braddock fighting for himself and his family. The journey starts here. So, we are taken through a world falling apart and how Braddock tries to mend all the holes in the fabric of life that keeps his family together. Here, Howard celebrates America too - how the country rallied together and pulled itself out of the depression. During the course of events, Braddock is offered a second chance at redeeming himself and the later part of the movie follows him as he digs himself out of adversity along with his family and prove himself in the ring, all the while giving hope to all those who were with him in that hole. Now, all of us - the intelligent movie goers - know that he definitely is going to come out on top (the good guy always wins right?). Its just how he does it that makes this movie worthwhile. As I said before, Howard does get a little sentimetal at places. The action scenes are simply brilliant and Howard does a great job in keeping up the pace and in Braddock's own words - this time he knows what he is fighting for.
This movie was worth both my time and my money. I enjoyed watching it. I hope you do to.