Cinderella Man

DVD Reviews | Dec 5th, 2005

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Starring Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Bruce McGill, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine
Written By: Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth
Directed By: Ron Howard
Studio: Universal
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Cinderella Man didn’t do that great at the box office and that’s a shame. It was praised by critics but regular movie folk didn’t see it, at least not yet anyway. (I can’t believe I said folk) The film is really good and probably one of the best films Russell Crowe has acted in. The film is based on a true story and is very inspiring. Any sports movie fan will really like this movie, I know I did.

Cinderella Man is about the boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) and the story takes place in New York/New Jersey during the Great Depression. Jimmy wasn’t the greatest boxer, but he was a great man. He has a supporting & caring wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and three children. He starts to lose too many boxing matches because of a broken arm so the gaming commission decides to let him go. Jimmy fights desperately to have the Commission keep him around because his family is poor and can’t even afford to keep the electric on. To try to survive and put food on his family’s plates, Jimmy manages to finally get picked to be a dock worker. Joe Gould, Braddock’s manager & trainer (Paul Giamatti) offers Jimmy a one shot match for $250 dollars against the second best fighter. Jimmy miraculously knocks him out, and even though it was only suppose to be a one shot deal; Jimmy comes back to the sport. Jimmy’s fighting becomes inspiration for a lot of poor & working class Americans and he becomes a folk hero among the people. Along the way, he goes through boxer to boxer until he has to come to the legendary & very arrogant boxer Max Bauer (Craig Bierko). Bauer has killed two men in the ring and everyone fears Jimmy could be next.

The most important thing in sports movies is caring for the characters. If the characters or story aren’t fleshed out, the viewers won’t be interested in the film. Cinderella Man really succeeds in that area because I really felt their sorrows, living in the Great Depression and I got really wrapped in the story once Jimmy wins that comeback fight. The performances by all the actors involved were excellent. I think this is one of Russell Crowe’s best acting performances and he really perfected that NJ accent. And thankfully he doesn’t always talk that way. Paul Giamatti is a great character actor and delivers another great performance. He’s really on fire lately with the roles he’s doing. I usually hate Renee Zellweger in most movies, but she did an okay job with Mae Braddock. Her look & acting style fit the movie well. I thought having Broadway star Craig Bierko as Max Bauer was brilliant, you really want to beat the crap out of the guy because he’s just a prick.

The story seemed a little slow in the beginning and kind of long as well. But, the integrity of the characters would have been in danger and then it wouldn’t have been as good if they cut some things out, I suppose. That was my only real complaint, that it was a little bit long. The boxing scenes were exciting to watch, the non-boxing scenes supported why the boxing was so important to Jimmy and showed his motivation. The story didn’t feel like anything new but it was just made real well. There has been a lot of sport stories based on true events, where people have overcome hardships, not being able to see, racism, injuries and in this one, poverty. I’m not too familiar with other boxing movies, I barely remember the first couple Rocky’s. I know Mr T. was in one of them. I remember the 4th one the most and I never saw Raging Bull as well. Yes I know, I suck. But I still think this film was one of the best movies of the year, and I just think it was released in the wrong part of the year. This movie should have been released now, in the winter. Now, i’m afraid it’s going to get overlooked come award season. There might be a nomination for something but I don’t think it will actually win. Same thing happened with Road To Perdition a few years ago. This movie was ten times better and far more entertaining than A Beautiful Mind was. So I hope it gets some recognition.

You have a choice of getting the bare bones DVD edition, or you can get the 2-Disc DVD Collector’s Edition. There’s a ton of deleted scenes, and good thing they were cut just because of the time restraint. Some of the scenes, actually should have been put back into the movie but I can understand why they were cut. There’s lots of featurettes on the collector’s set and I watched a few of them. Cool tidbit, they used Maple Leaf Gardens to filmed the Madison Square Garden footage. Maple Leaf Gardens was built in that same era and it wasn’t being used anymore for Leaf games so that was cool to find out. There’s featurettes on casting each character in the movie along with interviews with those people and Ron Howard, there’s some behind the scenes footage, a featurette on boxing, one on Jim Braddock and his family. A lot of effort went into making this DVD since there’s a lot of extra things to watch. If you are fascinated with the story of Jimmy Braddock, and like the movie as well; then the extras shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cinderella Man isn’t anything original or relevantly new in the sport movie department. Though this is based on a true story so that always adds some important element to the movie experience. If it weren’t for the acting performances, I’m not sure I would have found this movie interesting or as good as I thought it was. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this movie going into it, but i’m glad I saw it. Also, this DVD would make a great gift for Dad for the Holidays.

Disc 1:
Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard Feature Commentary with Writer Akiva Goldsman
Feature Commentary with Writer Cliff Hollingsworth
Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Ron Howard
The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man
The Man, The Movie, The Legend: A Filmmaking Journey
For the Record: A History in Boxing
Ringside Seats
Jim Braddock: The Friends & Family Behind the Legend
Kodak Cinderella Man
DVD-ROM Features

Disc 2:
Collectible Booklet and Postcards
Additional Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Ron Howard
Russell Crowe’s Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock
Focus on Script
Creating the Reality
Russell’s Transformation
Inflatable People
Lights, Camera, Action: The Fight from Every Angle
Braddock vs. Baer Fight Footage
Photo Montage
The Sound of the Bell
Cinderella Man Music Featurette
The Human Face of Depression

Also Includes Commemorative Book & Limited Edition Photo Cards!

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)

English, Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: All the boxing scenes. Even though i hated the character, I found all the scenes with Max Bauer entertaining.
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 145 minutes
Extras Rating:
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