Movie Review: Cinderella Man

James (Jim) Braddock has it tough. Just a few years ago he was living the high life. Winning earnings and boxing matches came easily. Now, in the great depression, Jim has been retired because of his continual losses. He has to make ends meet any way he can, and his broken hand isn’t helping matters.
Things go from bad to worse however, when Jim and his family’s apartment’s electricity is shut off in the dead of winter. One of the children gets sick, and his wife wants to move them someplace where they will be safe.

Then, by Divine Providence, Jimmy’s old manager, Joe Gould,  shows up and tells him he has a fight, and the winnings large. He has a chance to restore his name, and amazingly, he wins. Joe sees in him that old fighter he used to be, and gets him another fight.

The winnings start piling up again, but in order to win the championship, he has to fight The Max Man. Max has killed two men in the ring. He is one who is incredibly brutal in a fight. James has to choose. Withdraw from the match and allow his family to continue to live in poverty…. Or risk his life to win riches that will give his family a new start.

Things I liked
This film is based in the 1920s and 1930s. This of course is the time when America went through the great depression. In those days, many families broke up and sent their kids to places where they would be cared for physically, but torn apart emotionally. He promises that no matter what, their family will be sticking together. All through the movie we see the family suffer together, and celebrate together. I loved seeing a strong and happy family portrayed in a movie. Even if their situation was poor.

Another item worth noting is James Braddock himself. He is a real man. A man who works to support his family, even if injured and it causes him pain. A man who gives his supper to one of his children so they can eat. A man who will risk his life if it means a better future for his family. He is honest with the kids, but also encouraging. He is strict with discipline, but teaches with love. He never bends what is right to make his life easier. He puts himself last, and his family first. That, is a real man.

James Braddock’s wife is just as admirable. She is strong, yet is serene. She speaks her mind, but also submits to her husband. She makes do with what they have. She doesn’t complain about what they have, but rather thanks Jim for working so hard. She is Jim’s partner, for better or for worse. In her own words… “Maybe I understand, some, about having to fight. So you just remember who you are… you’re the Bulldog of Bergen, and the Pride of New Jersey, you’re everybody’s hope, and the kids’ hero, and you are the champion of my heart, James J. Braddock.”

   The final aspect I love about this movie is the commitment to work and work ethic.  In this movie, one child of Jim stole some meat so they could have a good supper. Jim makes him go back and return the meat. “We never steal” He tells him. Jim has to take aid money from the government, and is ashamed to do so. Everyday we see men lining up to work to feed their families. Contrast that with today, where unemployment benefits are chosen opposed to jobs, because you can make more doing nothing on handouts. This movie shows the value of hard work and commitment. Jim begins boxing again not because he wants to, but because it puts food on the table.
   One little piece of dialoge I loved,  in relation man and his role as provider is as follows… Two women are having a serious dialogue, and one says this:
“I don’t know who is harder on them. Them or us? We have to wait for them to fix everything. And yet everyday… They feel like they are failing us. It really is just the world that has failed you know.”

Things I didn’t like
While this movie definitely has incredible redeeming qualities, there are also some dirty punches thrown in the mix…

Round 1: the swearing. Man oh man is there loads of swearing. Christ’s name is abused dozens of times. Once, in three sentences his name is used at least twelve times. Other words include dozens of d–m, hell (out of context), a–, b—h, and b—–d.
God’s name is also used in vain countless times.
It was painful to hear so much swearing, especially Christ’s name used in vain so many times. Joe Gould is the one who accounts for 90% of such language.
There are also several comments involving inappropriate innuendo between fighters.

Round 2: The Boxing. Yes, I know it is a boxing movie, but it is not fun watching some guys get beat up so badly. Blood is present in almost every fight. Coming out the nose, on the ears, spitting it out the mouth… and all over the forehead. Punches thrown look incredibly realistic, and some are quite brutal. This is shown to be “real” boxing, and feels like it.

Round 3: The Intimacy. While Jim and his wife are married, we see them kiss quite a bit (and that’s it). Dozens of times in fact. Nothing is wrong with this, as they are “married” in the movie, but there is quite a lot of it.

Closing Thoughts

This movie is a powerful one without question. To watch Jim and his wife fight the depression, and continually support each other was an incredible thing to see. Many times I found myself wondering who was going to break first, and several times, I thought one had.

Cinderella Man is a movie that not only tells a good “American Dream” type story, but it also supports biblical values such as dedicated marriage, putting others before yourself, uncompromising morals, and more. Where we see things don’t come to those who sit idly by and “wait” for things to get better, but one must act if there is to be something better. I loved the movie, and the values it embodied.

However, one cannot overlook the unnecessary abuses of Jesus’ name, cussing, and innuendo between boxers. This thing takes a movie that could be a knockout, and lowers it down to a 15 round draw.

Is it worth watching the continuous pounding on Christs name, to see an honorable values?

That is something you will have to decide.

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