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Cinderella Man (2005)
During the tragic years of the Great Depression, Irish boxer James Braddock would rise to the occasion and fight for his family, for food, and for the hope of a nation in need of a little inspiration. "Cinderella Man" is the tale of the true underdog emerging at last, only after years of trial and heartache.
Story and screenplay by: Cliff Hollingsworth.
Directed by: Ron Howard.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport.
Rated: PG13 for intense sport violence and brief language.
"In all the history of the boxing game you find no human interest story
James Braddock (Russell Crowe) is a poor Irish immigrant working to make ends meet for his loyal wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), and three hungry kids, Rosy, Howard, and Jay. Formerly a famed boxer, old age sets in and wears the "Bulldog's" victories thin. As his loyal trainer Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) does his best to keep him in the ring, the shrewd Jimmy Johnston (Bruce McGill) threatens to revoke Jimmy's boxing license. After Jimmy fails to knock out a novice fighter because of a broken hand, Johnston pulls his license and throws James out onto the street to fend for food via manual labor.
But hard times make finding work hard. A busted hand would only make finding work impossible. Nevertheless, James' religiously wakes early to find ways to put food on the table while his children stifle innocent complaints of hunger and even go so far as to try to steal meat from the butcher. Desperate, Mae sends the kids away in hopes that her parents can take on the extra mouths while James and Mae find resources enough to put back on the gas and electric in their humble apartment.
With nowhere else to go, James files for government assistance and then seeks additional help from the wealthy bureaucrats of the boxing world. But the cold Johnston hardly spares a few cents, leaving Joe Gould to take on the main portion of the financial burden of restoring Jimmy's utility services. What's more, Joe fights his way into earning James another fight. This time James is to appear not as a hero, but as bait for the Heavyweight champion Griffin for a small but much palatable purse of $250. Fighting to put food on the table provides Braddock with some heavy ammunition and he walks into the boxing ring and does the unthinkable, he slaughters the current champion.
But the fight was to be a final farewell, and Joe has to sale all his possessions to purchase enough equipment for Braddock to continue his training for a revolutionary comeback career. Turning to Johnston for help, Joe convinces Johnston to find James fights, rhetorically persuading Johnston that the underdog can only help pull in more money for his business. Thus Braddock is to fight the notorious Lewis, the only man to beat Braddock in his golden days. With all the media once again betting against Braddock he enters the ring and snuffs his former victor. Quickly he moves on to take out Laskey, and is named the number one contender for the heavy weight championship, which is to be fought against current title holder Max Baer (Craig Bierko).
Baer, a massively formidable man, refuses to fight the 'washed out chump' and sets about trying to find ways to call off the fight. Nevertheless Braddock is determined to fight for his family, and for the men of his country who are being denied any chance at finding a new life. Braddock enters an upscale hotel the night before the fight to face his opponent. Some verbal sparring heats both sides and Mae goes so far as to physically assault the man threatening to take her husband's life, as he has done to two other men before Braddock. Nevertheless Braddock has a job to do. All of the working class is depending on him to rise to the occasion and give the underdogs of America a glimmer of hope at a second chance. In the hallmark fight of his career, Braddock prepares to face off the deadly Baer in what will become one of the most memorable fights of the century. With odds yet again against Jimmy Braddock, the 'Bulldog of NJ', Cinderella Man will once again have to face the villain to emerge the hero in a fairytale. But can Braddock outlast the Baer, or will he fall in the first round as predicted. As Mae rushes home to her kids who are crowded around their radio set, the whole of NJ and half of America watches as Braddock prepares to fight for the little man.
"Cinderella Man" is simply spectacular! Once again Ron Howard brings us a film that will transcend the spectrum of human emotion and take you to heightened levels of anticipation, fear, anxiety, and hope in awaiting the fate of James J. Braddock and his family. "Cinderella Man" is the 'Everyman' tale of the 20th century that tells of one mans relentless heart and dedication to his family and to his country. Never before has a story so honestly portrayed the trials of the everyman and its realistic possibility to transcend from the bottom.
Who would have though that the man groveling for change in his hat, the man who had to admonish his son for stealing a chunk of meat to feed his family, would emerge the nation's most unpredicted Heavy Weight champion? "Cinderella Man" truly is one of the greatest stories and memorable films of all time. Having honorably served in the war efforts and loyally dedicated himself to the business world after his boxing profession, James Braddock was a remarkable man that remained loyal to friends, family, and country until the end. With his wife and his three kids standing behind him, there was nothing Braddock couldn't do and wouldn't fight for. "Cinderella Man" will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at the inspirational tale of one man's fight to the top; and Braddock went swinging all the way.
Russell Crowe plays James Braddock, the "Bulldog" of NJ, champion Heavy Weight boxer and inspiration to America during the Great Depression of the 1930's.
Renee Zellweger plays Mae Braddock, James' loyal wife who stands by his side until the end.
Paul Giamatti plays Joe Gould, James' beloved friend and trainer.
Craig Bierko plays Max Baer, the famous Heavy weight champion of the world who will fight Braddock to defend his title.