I read that Cinderella Man failed to achieve the box-office success that was predicted for it. The film received good initial reviews from critics, and a lot of publicity, but still the crowds did not appear.
I think I know why. The American movie-going public is just plain bored and disgusted with movies about boxing. The film is rated PG-13, which means children under 13 years should have parental guidance to see it. I wouldn’t recommend this film even to my 19-year old niece! I wouldn’t recommend it to adults either. Now I know how Ebert and Roeper must feel having to sit through awful movies just because they have to write about them.
Any other film with these actors would have been great. Russell Crowe plays James Braddock, a boxer during the Depression era who overcame obstacles to keep his family together, and to be a great fighter. Renee Zellweger plays his wife, and Paul Giamatti plays his trainer/manager. I have no issues with Mr. Braddock as a person, and I believe he did overcome many obstacles to keep his family together during the Depression. But so did a lot of other people.
If Hollywood really tried, they could come up with another story of hardship leading to success. But instead they filmed this movie about a “profession/sport” that has grown men beating each other up (and sadly, grown women as in Million Dollar Baby). Audiences don’t want to go to theaters to watch boxing, and they don’t want to watch it at home either. Even Mrs. Braddock hates boxing, and tells her husband to stop letting his children spar with him. She lays down the law and announces that no child in her family will grow up to be a boxer. They will go to college and get good jobs elsewhere. Way to go, Mrs. Braddock!
Russell Crowe was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his performance, as was Paul Giamatti for his performance in a supporting role. It is not Russell’s year for an award. I can see why Mr. Giamatti was nominated however, as he does a really fine job as the manager risking his own financial stability in order that Mr. Braddock can have one last chance. Mr. Giamatti is a fine actor, as he has shown us previously in Sideways.
Other than Mr. Giamatti’s performance, the film falls short. The cinematography is inferior. I know it was dark during the Depression, but this film is too dark to even see clearly. I can’t think of any reason you should go out and rent this film. If any of you have seen it, please comment about it here. I’d be interested to hear whether you agree or disagree with me.
(The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has rated Cinderella Man PG-13 for intense boxing violence and some language. Henceforth, when I quote the MPAA ratings, it is verbatim for my readers’ information. Many of my readers prefer to avoid films with violence, and this is a way for me to alert you to whether there is sufficient violence in a film for it to be noted in the MPAA ratings.)