I’m a romantic. I’m also an athlete at the heart. It makes for embarrassing scenes sometimes, like when you find yourself tearing up at The Legend of Bagger Vance or really any movie where the ending builds in a frenetic crescendo to this ultimate winning sequence. Like the ending of Rudy…forget about it.
So, put me down in front of a movie like Cinderella Man, and we have the makings of a sob-fest. Actually, I don’t think that I teared up, but my heart strings were definitely tugged heavily. Russell Crowe was pretty fantastic, and although I’m not a big fan of watching her on screen, Renee Zelleweger played convincingly as well. And shit, Paul Giamati plays Braddock’s manager; that guy is the most underrated talent in all of Hollywood.
But really, it’s the story itself that is so incredible. This guy, Jim J Braddock, was just a mediocre fighter, broke his hand and quit fighting to work the docks to keep his family through bouts of starvation and a fear of being turned out on the street through the Depression. But a random happenstance allowed him one last fight, which turned out to be the first of four fights that led him to a title fight against the well-feared Max Baer.
Not only did he defeat Baer…he was the Heavyweight Champion of the World for the better part of two years, until he lost it to Joe Louis. Joe Louis, considered by some the greatest fighter ever, was on record stating that Braddock was “the most courageous man he’d ever fought.” Quite a large statement coming from that man. That’s like earning respect from Ali.
It’s a second chance story. A story of redemption, of a comeback. Everybody loves comebacks. Everybody loves the underdog. And unless you just have a difficult time with any of the lead characters, you won’t be disappointed.