Cinderella Man

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Cinderella Man inexplicably bombed at the box office back in 2005, despite having two big stars, Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger, and a director who knows how to make crowd-pleasing commercial successes, Ron Howard. (And it even has two actors from the "That Guy" list, Bruce McGill and Ron's brother Clint.) Should have been big, but as they say in the movie biz, nobody knows anything.

It's the story of real-life boxing legend James J. Braddock, played by Mr. Crowe. As the movie opens, he's doing OK, making decent money in the fight game. But a few years later, we're in the midst of the Great Depression, and Braddock has to deal with injuries; he's widely considered to be a has-been. He struggles to find work, pay the bills, and keep his family together. But… guess why they called it Cinderella Man? By dint of his courage, honesty, and talent (and a dogged manager played by Paul Giamatti), he manages to stage an against-all-odds comeback. The climax is his championship fight against Max Baer (who's inaccurately depicted as a murderous swine).

Funny line: between rounds, a bloody Braddock is admonished by his manager: "You gotta stop some of those left hands!" Braddock replies: "You see any getting past my head?"

Accuracy aside, everybody's good here, and the movie looks great. Since it's based on a true story, if you know anything about boxing, you know how it comes out. It's a little long, clocking in at 144 minutes. It got a also-ran mention in National Review's list of the "Best Conservative Movies" of the past 25 years.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 3:20 PM EST