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4.7 out of 5 stars
Cinderella Man [DVD] [2005]
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 13 February 2006
Cinderella Man features a great performance from Russell Crowe as Jimmy Braddock ,a quite remarkable real life Heavyweight boxer who plied his trade in New York during the depression of the late twenties early thirties.
Some of this fare we have seen in numerous boxing movies over the years but it is all very well realised by director Ron Howard.
The poverty and the sheer squalor of the depression years are also portrayed convincingly and Jimmy’s constant battle to provide for his family is extremely moving.
Paul Giamatti is terrific as Jimmy’s manager though Rene Zelwegger is really wasted in the role of the wife.
It is a long movie but well worth the time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2006
Having read and been influenced by many reviews on this site over the past couple of years, this is the first time I have been moved to actually write one of my own.
Cinderella Man has to be the best film of 2005. It is a heart warming story which is wonderfully acted and sensitively directed by Ron Howard. Russell Crowe is magnificent in the title role and his performance is excellently supported by the underrated Paul Giamatti as his long time friend and trainer.
Renee Zellweger is also very good, though possibly slightly wasted, in the less demanding role of Braddock's wife.
Others before me have outlined the story admirably so I don't wish to go into great detail. I would just like to say that I benefitted from not previously knowing the history or outcome of the story. Suffice to say at the film's climax, when underdog Jim Braddock is in the ring fighting champion Max Baer for the world heavyweight title, I was at first on the edge of my seat, and by the fifteenth round up on my feet punching thin air as I tried to help Braddock with every ounce of energy.
I could go further with my ultimate reaction, but that would unfairly give away the ending to anyone who hasn't yet seen the movie.
In summary, if you enjoy films that deal with good old fashioned human values such as loyalty, humility, love and courage over adversity, told in a sincere yet unsentimental way, then I suggest you purchase this movie today. You will not be disappointed...
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 September 2005
"Cinderella Man" is about a down-and-out guy who makes an astonishing boxing comeback and wins the title during the Depression. What makes this movie stand out from other under-dog boxing films is the sensitive and endearing performance of Russell Crowe. It really is one of his best roles ever.

Crowe looks the part of Jim Braddock; his face is craggy and lined, his tired eyes reflect desperation, fear, and hope. He is as convincing in the brutal boxing scenes as he is in the tender moments he shares with Renee Zellweger, who plays Jim's wife, Mae. The sentimentality never becomes maudlin, however, and we come to like and admire Jim for the love he has for his family and his determination to do whatever he has to do to support them and keep them together.

Two scenes define Braddock even more than the boxing matches: The first is when he is reduced to begging, hat in hand, from his former associates in order to have the heat turned back on in his pitiful basement apartment. The second is when Jim goes to the relief office and repays the money he had been given. These scenes show Jim was a man of intense pride and inner strength; he didn't complain about being poor or shirk his responsibilities. "Cinderella Man" is a very good fim!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"In all the history of the boxing game you find no human interest story to compare with the life narrative of J J. Braddock".

- Damon Runyan.

Rags to riches films are notoriously divisive amongst critics and fans alike, often tagged derogative wise as Awards Baiters, one could be forgiven for thinking that uplifting pictures have no place in cinema society. On the surface, Cinderella Man was always going to struggle to totally capture the movie loving world. It's directed by Ron Howard, who seems to forever be charged with the crime of lacing his puddings with too much sugar, and it's written by the person who brought us Batman & Robin! So not a good start there for many. Add into the equation that Russell Crowe stars as Braddock, at a time when Crowe was gaining unfavourable press for anger issues and a love of poetry: And also that it's yet another boxing movie, this film was disliked before it had even been released. Which is a mighty shame as the finished product is a triumph of acting and story telling nous, in fact inspiring probably isn't the word to do it total justice.

Much like with Apollo 13, Howard has managed to grab a story with a known ending and mold it into a heavyweight champion of a picture. Set as it is in the Great Depression, the amount of sentiment and heart tugging is naturally very high, but what would you have Howard do? Forgo the feeling of the time and Braddock's real life situation? Perhaps in favour of filler scenes that have no actual worth? Cinderella Man has no agenda other than to tell this incredible story of a good honest family man struggling to make ends meet. With a heart of a lion and a chin quarried from granite, Braddock {brilliantly realised by the irrepressible Crowe} went from top to bottom and rose like a phoenix to defy the odds and stun the boxing world at a time when morale was particularly low for many. This is no Rocky Balboa bunting strewn fanfare picture, this is a real story, from a real period, expertly told by all involved.

This is not to say that Cinderella Man is a perfect piece, it most definitely isn't. My personal complaint rests with not fully fleshing out the friendship between Braddock and Mike Wilson, with the almost unforgivable crime of underusing the talent of Paddy Considine {Wilson} entered on to the charge sheet. Craig Bierko as the murderously ruthless champion boxer, Max Baer, has obviously studied the character, getting the movements of the champ down pat, but he just never fully convinces as a real life boxer of note, something that Crowe most assuredly manages to do. But they are minor quibbles to me, and offset by the wonderful Paul Giamatti as Braddock's trainer Joe Gould, every sequence featuring just him and Crowe are real cinema high points; an acting tour de force from two very talented men. A special mention has to go to Renee Zellweger, who as Braddock's devoted wife, gets arguably the toughest role in the picture, that she leaves a firm and emotionally enlightening impression is with much credit to the pretty and undervalued Texan.

Rags to riches films are here to serve a purpose, they exist and will continue to be made because the world sometimes needs reminders that love, hope and respect can reign supreme, especially in trying and troubled times. Cinema is actually a form of medicine, especially when grounded in facts. Is it right to deny yourself a tonic when the need arises? Of course not, thankfully those involved with Cinderella Man knew exactly what to prescribe for the story of J J. Braddock. 9/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2011
Cinderella Man is a powerful tale of the highs and lows of a James J. Braddock, a remarkable boxer who came to epitomise the spirit of the common people in the Great Depression. Russell Crowe is magnificent in portraying Braddock's desperate fight not only with his opponents in the ring, but with the daily struggle to feed his young family. Crowe's simple, yet instantly likeable and moral Braddock epitomises the essence of Braddock's popular appearl: he was a stout-hearted 'bulldog' who never gave up.
Renée Zellweger is heart-wrenching in her role as Mae Braddock, fighting her own fight: her desperation to see her family safe, but not at the expense of her husband's safety or even life. The moments of intimacy between the two are superbly filmed and Mae Braddock's concerns become intermingled with those of the viewer as we progress down the journey of Braddock's life.

The choreography and filming of the boxing scenes is magnificent, capturing the grit, pain and determination involved in the ring, whilst also showing the passion of the fighters, crowd and, of course, Mae Braddock. The filming remains original and does not seem repetitive, partially aided by the nature of Braddock's career, but also by the nature of boxing. Braddock's manager, played by Paul Giamati, is a superb motivator not only of Braddock's fighting spirit, but also of the viewer's desire to see him win.

This true underdog story is an emotionally inspiring dedication to one of boxing's most brilliant characters and to the spirit of the Irish migrants in America. I urge you to avoid any wikipedia-ing of Braddock - to do so would be to ruin the suspense and expectation that the film masterfully builds and would serve to devalue the ending which has left even the most cynical of reviewers misty-eyed. Whether this is due to loss or fulfilment, I leave to you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Initially we didn't bother to see Cinderella Man at the cinema because we're not overly fond of boxing movies. Then I later read a couple of reviews which suggested that Russell Crowe's performance was top notch. He's one of my favourite actors, so we gave it a crack.

And I'm really pleased that we did. Yes, Cinderella Man IS a boxing movie. It's full of hard, sweaty men beating the living bejaysus out of each other at a time when deaths in the boxing ring were a real risk of the sport.

However, it's also a lot more than 'just' a boxing movie. It's the story of the economic collapse of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and how it ripped the heart out of American society. The lead character, an up and coming boxer who loses all his financial security in the crash, and then loses his boxing career to boot, demonstrates exactly how the Depression affected the average American. He went from a comfortable life in suburbia to desperate straits, standing in soup kitchen lines. The family came close to losing everything; no food, no warmth, and with the parents unable to feed their children. This part of the film is chilling -- and it explains why America clings so tightly to its economic prosperity. The spectre of such a financial disaster occuring again must be a scary one.

So you've got the main plot of 'under-dog fighter comes back from nowhere' and a fascinating snapshot of American history running in the background. Director Ron Howard combines the two so that you're compelled by the personal story and educted about the historical background without even noticing. Smart man.
(In the Special Features he shows how some of his favourite scenes had to be snipped to keep the film's pacing on the right footing).

And yes, my reason for watching was Russell Crowe and he does indeed give a stand-out performance. The Special Features show footage from the actual fights of the 1930s and Crowe has captured the body posture of his character to a tee. It was spooky looking at the old fight -- for a moment it appeared to be Crowe, hunched over and slugging away...

In case I've made this sound way too worthy, don't worry. It IS a boxing film. The fight scenes had us on the edge of the sofa, yelping and wincing and shouting. And we don't even like boxing movies!
What Ron Howard has done is to combine his skill at capturing revealing moments in American history (and showing them from a personal viewpoint) with Crowe's ability to seize the audience's attention and hold it for two hours or more without blinking.

So, if you liked Raging Bull then you should enjoy this. If you enjoyed A Perfect Mind or Apollo 13 then you should enjoy this. If you're looking for another Rocky movie, then you're probably better off with Stallone...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly this magnificent film did poorly at the box office,and costing 60 million dollars to make,barely made a profit.

Russell Crowe plays James Braddock the tough boxer down on his luck in the depression rid 1930s New York,incredibly well directed and acted,with Russell Crowe giving a superb underplayed portrayal of a nothing to loose everything to gain boxer.

The acting scene where he has to beg cap in hand for a meagre 19 dollars is particularly well done, as are the fight scenes.

Rene Zellwegger is good but not exceptional,and the whole depression era is handled extremely well.

Not since the Charles Bronson,James Coburn film "Hard Times" has a depression rid America seemed more real.

Why Stallones Rocky received academy awards,and this film did poorly is a mystery.

The James Braddock story is a true one,and the entire film is one that can be appreciated time and again,for the brilliant cinematography.

Like most people I missed this film when it was released in 2005, and I stayed up late until 1 am when it was televised on Film4.

The Rocky films are good,but Cinderella Man is by far the better film,with fight scenes to rival even Scorsese's Raging Bull.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2006
In my opinion this film was the best film of 2005. It was just simply brilliant. I must have for all dvd collections. Russels Crows preformance as Bradock is up there with his best. I just didnt move a inch in the cinema, as I was in so much amazement. BUY IT!!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2006
Cinderella Man is an excellent piece of movie entertainment. It is a great story, made better by fact that it is almost true. It looks great, the music hits just the right mood and the performances are excellent. The only place this movie falls down is in the portrayal of Max Baer. Craig Bierko does a good job of doing what he is asked to do, i.e. make Baer a boo hiss baddy. The only problem is that Baer wasn't a bad man. He had faults just like everybody else but he was not a cold hearted man killer who took a pride in his reputation of being a lethal puncher. Baer was genuinely heartbroken after he killed Frankie Campbell in an earlier fight. Many boxing historians cite this as being one of the main reasons he never achieved the greatness he could have in the sport. He put Campbell's children through college and also donated purses from later fights to his family. Ernie Schaff was not killed by the first little nothing jab that Primo Carnera landed on him. It is true that he was injured in a fight with Baer, but it was his decision to take the fight with Carnera knowing he was not 100%, and he went 11 rounds before he finally went down. Baer wanted to make people laugh far more than he ever wanted to hurt them. He liked the money and the fame that boxing brought, but very little else. I feel it is important that Hollywood starts to get their facts straight about real people and real situations instead of altering them in order to make the plot a little bit more convenient. Baer still has living relatives who are having to watch a man they knew and loved and who died of a heartattack at a relatively young age, turned into a pantomime villian to suit the scriptwriters. Not only does this subtract from Baer the man, it also subtracts from Braddock, who was a genuinely decent man who had to come back from appalling poverty to win the title, and also the movie itself. It is far more interesting to watch a movie that gives you a clear and accurate description of real people and real events rather than a piece of hokum. Cinderella Man isn't hokum. It has too many good points for it to be anything other than a good film, but it could have been a very good or a great film if it had been fair.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 May 2013
Crowe gives a standout performance in this poiniant and ultimately uplifting biopic of a depression era hero. James J Braddock is a first class boxer who looses everything during the great depression. With luxury long since gone, he lives in the slums with his wife and kids, works at the docks when he can get it, and is forced to retire from the ring after a loosing streak. When a welfare payment can't put food on his table, he resorts to begging. His promoter, the wonderful Paul Giamatti, manages to get him a one fight deal with a high ranking contender because no one else would take the fight. Braddock steps back into the ring for what he believes is his last ever fight. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is a Ron Howard film so the melodrama is cranked right up into the clouds but it really works. The boxing scenes are brutal at times and the tale would be considered ridiculous if it wasn't based on actual events.
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