Ron Howard’s mostly true story of Jim Braddock is a depression era Rocky. It follows Braddock’s career from his early days as a contender for a light-heavy weight title through to the dark Depression years when injuries and age prevented him from making a living in the ring right up to his amazing comeback in the ring when he became a symbol for courage in a country “that had been brought to its knees.” This is a big, good looking movie that seems to scream Oscar, except that it is a bit too long and relies too heavily on boxing movie clichés that we have seen before. The performances, however, are quite good. Paul Giamatti plays Braddock’s manager Joe Gould with a lot of energy, while Renee Zellweger redefines the term “mousey” in her portrayal of Braddock’s wife Mae. At the heart of the movie is Russell Crowe who shines as the humble, but driven Braddock. Crowe could be nominated for Best Actor for just one scene in this movie–where he goes back to a club frequented by his old boxing associates to beg for money from his former friends to pay his electrical bill.
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