December 04, 2005

CINDERELLA MAN
Ron Howard (USA 2005)

6.5
i vowed never to see A Beautiful Mind as soon as i heard Ron Howard and Imagine had taken liberties with the still-living couple's life to make it more palatable for a mainstream audience. Ron Howard is a good director. but for some reason, he's been making pap sentimental "Oscar contender" flicks these past few years. i don't remember why i decided to sit down and watch this film, though. 'cause i sure as hell wasn't interested when it went into theaters. it seemed to be the same kind of lazy, over-produced flick i've hated Ron Howard for. but i did, so here we are. the film starts out rather awkwardly with some pap and corny characters (even one of the kids -you'll spot him- seems to have a Child Actor tag all over his tacky performance). i couldn't find a way into the film. tales of courage set against the Great Depression are hard to make fresh and real. especially when they're so transparently manipulative. and although Braddock even states early on that you can't fight something you can't see, such as poverty, it is exactly what he's fighting against in the end. yeah - hokey. but after about 40 minutes to an hour, something happened, and i won't say what, but it chnaged the film for me. it let me in. never quit on a poor film; there's always the chance you'll be missing a gem. it was a thing of beauty and i have no idea how they did it because, god knows, for the first hour or so they made asses of themselves, stumbling over each other, in order to try and make a proper film. but that saved it for me. it was actually exciting. and for almost the rest of the flick, things went more smoothly for me. i'm not saying it was a great film. not at all. but it was at least an acceptable, passable one now. the story's pretty much telegraphed the whole way through, though, and it's simple enough so that everyone will understand. i don't get these kinds of films. and for some reason, i still believe Ron Howard is a decent director under it all. but either he chooses poor material, or he simply boils it all down to one or two simple things and the film suffers from artificiality. it does have some guts to it. although it's sentimental, i don't believe it's consciously Oscar-bait (the overdone strings are). Howard and company just seem lost these past few years. out of touch. so a story about courage and the po' man feel a bit out of their grasp. it's mostly all surface. so, if you're looking to get lost in a film, this doesn't seem to be it. one thing i did notice that i thought showed some creativity was how quiet Howard kept the film. that was a nice touch. and a gaunt Russell Crowe does a fine job here, working with a stereotypical noble underdog character and fleshes him out so you believe him even when you're laughing at the failures of the flick.

Posted by Sam | 7:01 PM |