Like most of movie-goers out there, I knew nothing of Jim Braddock's story. Even after researching him and his fights, I still didn't know enough that made me think this movie was going to be nothing more than a canned Hollywood movie. In many ways, it is a canned experience, but I loved every moment of it. And, as you may come to find out, this could very well be Ron Howard's best piece since Apollo 13.
We follow Russell Crowe who plays Jim Braddock, a successful boxer before the Great Depression hits. Once that lands on the country, he is plunged into financial trouble and his struggle is to mainly keep his family afloat. Only when his former manager, Joe Gould, gives him a chance at a comeback can Braddock begin his journey to become the "Cinderella Man". In a time when the working man could get a leg up on the world, it gave hope to those who had none. That, at its core, is the moral message to Cinderella Man. Boxing is just the vehicle Braddock uses to, no pun intended, fight his way through the hard times.
The acting is some of the best you will see this year. My vote for Best Supporting Actor goes to Paul Giamatti for portraying the outgoing, no holds barred manager Joe Gould. Everytime he was on-screen yelling at Braddock from the corner or trying to convince the boxing big-wigs, it felt real. That's when you know you've hit the mark.
In the end, most people will want to compare this among the other boxing movies out there. I say, go ahead and let them. Cinderella Man may not be a Rocky type of boxing movie, but it has heart and, so far, it definitely ranks up there among my top movies of the year.