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CINDERELLA MAN

Broken-down, unemployed ex-boxer James J. Braddock was hit hard by the Great Depression. So, to put bread on the table for his wife and kids, he had no choice but to return to the brutal reality of the ring.

CAST: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill, Connor Price

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

SCREENWRITERS: Akiva Goldsman and Cliff Hollingsworth

“Like Gary Ross's ‘Seabiscuit,’ the legend of the little Depression-era horse that could, ‘Cinderella Man’ is a shamefully ingratiating old-fashioned weepie...Lightly stained a nicotine brown and topped by two male actors who could steal a movie from a basket of mewling kittens and an army of rosy-cheeked orphans, the film is as calculating and glossy a hard-luck tale as any cooked up on the old M-G-M lot...Out of the ring and opposite Mr. Giamatti, Mr. Crowe eases into the boxer's soft side, at times beautifully; in the ring, he's repulsively believable...The story Mr. Crowe tells, with Mr. Giamatti riding shotgun as a gleeful Mephistopheles, is that of a man who, having sampled the blood of others, clearly enjoyed the taste.” --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“‘Cinderella Man’ has the beauty, truth and galvanizing emotional force to become a classic...A lot of this has to do with the powerful and inspired performances of Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger...You scream, you applaud, you hide your eyes from the blows, you feel your pulse to check your blood pressure, you take deep breaths to steady your nerves, and yes, you are advised to bring Kleenex...the thing that ultimately makes it a classic in the pantheon of American movies is the way it reveals something about the idealism, strength, grace and grit of the American Dream.” --Rex Reed, New York Observer

“The movie is calamitously miscast, beginning with Russell Crowe, who, for all his pumped-up pectorals, gives a stupefyingly docile performance as the boxer, mumbling and shuffling and ducking his head even when off duty, and deploying an unflaggingly high mind in the face of adversity...By the grace of God, and of Braddock’s trainer (Paul Giamatti, growling valiantly but clearly at a loss), and of course of the spunky little missus, played by Renée Zellweger in a flurry of coy simpers and the usual squeezed-lemons grimace, he becomes a star...‘Cinderella Man’ isn’t much more of a fight movie either. The lead-up to Braddock’s big night is interminable and suspense-free, and as Crowe slogs through his 15 rounds, he is slyly upstaged by Craig Bierko, who brings a brutish flash — a relief after all that rampant sanctity — to the role of the hard-partying dirty fighter Max Baer.”
--Ella Taylor, LA Weekly

“There’s so much faith charging around in this picture that it could break your nose...without Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti it would be flat on the canvas. They make it seem a better and more bristling film than it actually is...What softens ‘Cinderella Man’ is the unstoppable decency of the director, who offers no hint of sexual threat or racial distrust, and only a breath of political unrest; what hardens it is the glower of Russell Crowe, who instinctively grasps the irony of trying to sell a fairy tale on the back of legalized violence—of men in a desperate age, who all but murdered for a living.” --Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“It doesn't matter that we can see the third act coming, or that ‘Cinderella Man’ doesn't have an original bone in its well-oiled body...Howard's movie skillfully delivers that primal, heart-pounding satisfaction that is the promise of all boxing tales...Crowe develops a quiet, instantaneous rapport with both the audience and with Renee Zellweger, who plays his devoted wife...Zellweger has an uncanny ability to make us swallow even the most movie-ish moments...Funny and touching, Giamatti shows us the raw excitable emotions that keep breaking the surface of Gould's fast-talking tough-guy façade.” --David Ansen, Newsweek

“Braddock is soulfully played by Russell Crowe, and if you adored ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ his previous schmaltzfest with Howard -- I didn't -- chances are you'll love this ultra-predictable crowd-pleaser, which is so square it makes the original ‘Rocky’ look cutting edge and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ positively avant-garde by comparison...Crowe has no chemistry whatever with the newly brunette Zellweger, who affects an annoying Jersey whine and is saddled with recurring visions of Braddock's funeral in a thoroughly thankless role. But he gets excellent support from Giamatti, whose dynamic and quick-thinking Gould is strikingly different than the sad sack loser the actor played in ‘Sideways.’” --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

“Howard realizes the period with perfect authenticity: the biting chill, the hungry faces, the bleak desperation. Crowe's Braddock is similarly genuine—a winning blend of simplicity, stubbornness and working-class charm...Unlike most period pieces, ‘Cinderella Man’ encourages us to fondly recall not songs or clothes but values we have largely mislaid. Look on the faces of the elder Braddocks when they realize they don't have enough fried bologna to feed their kids, and you'll understand true despair—and the bravery it takes to overcome it.” -- Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

“Crowe's impressive work as Braddock, his ability to bring integrity as well as skill to his performance, demonstrates why he's the most accomplished actor of his generation's major stars, someone whose ability makes this film succeed more than it should...And then there is costar Renée Zellweger, who gives one of her more mannered, unconvincing performances as Braddock's loyal and loving wife, Mae...Howard pulls strings so obviously it makes even reality resemble a setup...going too far in restating the obvious is what shortchanges ‘Cinderella Man's’ virtues from the opening bell to the close.” --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

“It's a three-hankie weeper: You need two for your eyes and one to stanch your sympathetic nosebleed...Down, down, down: It's laid on so thick it should be laughed off the screen. But, as in ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ there is Russell Crowe, and what a mesmerizing dude he has become...Paul Giamatti is a knockout, with a wonderful jabbering attack that lets him weave in and out of Crowe's more delicate cadences. It's a great matchup, and both actors triumph...Howard manipulates audiences without guile, jerking tears, piling on catastrophes, smoothing out dissonances, making bad characters badder and good ones gooder--At what he does, he's peerless. I wish I had more respect for what he does—and for myself the next morning for surrendering.” --David Edelstein, Slate

"‘Cinderella Man’ is this year's ‘Seabiscuit,’ a nostalgia-drenched, feel-good, Depression-era movie about giving the little guy a second chance even if he looks ready to be put out to pasture...Without Crowe and Paul Giamatti, this movie would have little in its corner...the two actors are quietly spectacular...When the movie is at its best, it shows the terrible toll the Depression took on manly pride and fortitude. As for womanly fortitude, there's a miscast Renée Zellweger as Braddock's tirelessly devoted wife.” --Jami Bernard, New York Daily News

“How exceptional a film actor is Russell Crowe? So exceptional that in ‘Cinderella Man,’ he makes a good boxing movie feel at times like a great, big picture...there's not another actor working in the movies today with Crowe's kind of gravitational pull to authenticity, to unactorliness...I make much of Crowe's dramatic integrity because without it, what is being touted as Howard's ‘grittiest’ picture would lose a fair measure of its grit... ‘Cinderella Man's’ impeccably designed, authentic-enough-looking scenes of just how dire living conditions really were for millions (subtext: Could it happen again?) would dissipate into fussy diversions without Crowe's participation.” --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"‘Cinderella Man’ is so square you could shoot pool on its head. It's straightforward, honest, inspirational, the story of a straightforward, honest, inspirational guy...And, unlike the last Ron Howard-Russell Crowe collaboration, ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ it is almost entirely trick-free...In this one, what you see is what you get...Crowe manages to keep it watchable by keeping it honest: You don't feel him preening or posing, you feel no smugness or self-awareness.” --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post