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Still shot from the movie: Cinderella Man.

Cinderella Man

Based on a true story, Russell Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a1930s boxing legend who fought his way from the breadlines to the pinnacle of his sport. Along the way, he also inspired a generation of struggling Americans who felt sucker punched by the great stock market crash. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: A
Violence: C+
Sexual Content: B+
Language: C
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Run Time: 144
Theater Release: 02 Jun 2005
Video Release: 05 Dec 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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In Cinderella Man, Ron Howard puts on the directorial gloves and tempts actor Russell Crowe into the ring to play a 1930s boxing legend. James J. Braddock fought his way from the breadlines to the pinnacle of his sport and along the way inspired a generation of struggling Americans who felt sucker punched by the great stock market crash.

In the movie, the light heavyweight fighter has a string of successes tucked under his belt. Young and ambitious, he exudes confidence with every jab and punch he throws. Mentored by his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), Jim seems destined for a winning career.

However, a turn of bad luck costs the pugilist his boxing license and leaves him sitting outside the ropes. Unemployed, he joins the ranks of jobseekers that show up every morning at the dock, hoping for work. But the economy is reeling from a crushing blow inflicted by the Depression and jobs are few and far between.

Scraping together whatever they can, Jim and his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), do their best to eke out an existence for their three young children. Moving out of their cozy home on a quiet New Jersey street, they sell nearly everything and take up residence in the dark basement of a crowded apartment block. But as money grows scarcer and the pile of overdue bills grows more plentiful, the self-respecting father and breadwinner is battered by the challenge to keep his family together.

Scraping together whatever they can, Jim and his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), do their best to eke out an existence for their three young children. Moving out of their cozy home on a quiet New Jersey street, they sell nearly everything and take up residence in the dark basement of a crowded apartment block. But as money grows scarcer and the pile of overdue bills grows more plentiful, the self-respecting father and breadwinner is battered by the challenge to keep his family together.

Then Joe shows up with an unanticipated offer. An upcoming match between the second ranked contender in the world, Corn Griffin (Art Binkowski), and his sparring partner, is slated to be cancelled when the underdog bows out. After doing some slick negotiating with Corn's owner, Joe gets Jim a one-time opportunity to fill in at the ring. But this time, when Jim "The Bulldog" Braddock steps onto the canvas, he's a different man: A fighter who is hungry for a win and starving for a second chance.

Cigarette smoke, profanities and some graphic boxing scenes repeatedly waft their way onto the screen in this script where the stark realities of poverty are pitted against the prosperous proprietors of the boxing organization. The sharp contrast highlights the struggle many average Americans faced during that long and dusty decade.

But Ron Howard's film doesn't dwell unnecessarily on the negative. Instead he gives adults and older teens a genuine champion who believes he has the power to make the best of a bad situation. Committed to his wife and children, he tries to maintain his dignity and stays true to his moral beliefs. In an era when appearances are paramount to success, he prefers to be seen as the man he really is.

Cinderella Man is rated PG-13: for intense boxing violence and some language

Cast: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti
Studio: 2005 Universal Studios

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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