The story of James J. Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to challenge for the heavyweight championship of the world.The story of James J. Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to challenge for the heavyweight championship of the world.The story of James J. Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to challenge for the heavyweight championship of the world.
Ron Howard teams with Russell Crowe (James J. Braddock) again and shows they can repeat with a winner. Like him as a person or not, Crowe puts forth another finely tuned, very convincing performance. Unlike in real life, he can be quite humble and sympathetic while beating the heck out of people. Really, his character is affecting, especially in his scenes with Braddock's children, and may be fairly reflective of the actual person of Braddock. (The fight game at that time, or any time, was not for saints but, whatever.) Renee Zellweger, who is not my favorite except for a brilliant portrayal in Cold Mountain, plays the wife effectively and mirrors the emotions for the females in the audience. (If my observations at the showing are typical, women fans will spend time alternately heading their eyes and virtually cheering out loud for Braddock/Crowe.)
There are a number of good supporting actors but Paul Giamatti strikes again! He plays the manager who supports Braddock through thick and thin and his character recalls the era better than anyone in the film. I don't know what kind of research he did for this role but his Joe Gould is the archetypal boxing manager of the time or, at least, our cinema image of one. Here's hoping he pulled some big bucks for a role for once.
(You will certainly recognize Bruce McGill, as the seemingly hard-hearted fight promoter who could care less about Braddock but really doesn't want to see him get killed in the ring, from many movie and TV appearances where he is always reliable and who may be remembered from an early exposure as "D-Day" in Animal House.)
- May 17, 2005