Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Best Picture: "Million Dollar Baby," 2004

Movie Stats:
Released 2004 (USA)
American, in English (very minimal non-translated German; minimal translated Gaelic)
Director – Clint Eastwood
Stars – Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman

Plot Summary:
Plucky, would-be fighter Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) worms her way into the heart of grizzled old boxer-turned-gym-owner-and-trainer Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) and works her way up to the championship game. Freeman co-stars as Frankie’s long-time friend and gym manager, Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupree.

Minimal blue language; boxing-related violence.

Bad Stuff:
The foreshadowing was really heavy-handed. I actually chuckled when the “bad” fighter (Billie the Blue Bear, played by Lucia Rijker) turned up for the final fight in a robe that made her look like an evil sorceress. It was silly.

As much as I love Morgan Freeman’s voice (who doesn’t?), the narration bugged me the whole movie until they revealed at the end why he was doing it. Then it made sense but that was seriously about two minutes before the film ended.

It’s a touch over-sentimental.

Good Stuff:
I loved the relationships between the characters. The obvious focal point was the father-daughter-like relationship between Frankie and Maggie, which was both touching and realistic. I personally enjoyed the friendship between Frankie and Scrap. You could tell that these men had known and loved each other for decades. A “lesser” relationship I adored was the one between Scrap and “Danger,” played by Jay Baruchel. It was so subtle and sweet.

Fantastic performances by all the key players.

The dialogue is great.

The Verdict:
I didn’t want to like this film. I’ve never been particularly interested in the premise so it hasn’t been on my list of “oh, I always wanted to see that.” I thought it sounded kind of dumb. I was wrong.

This is a great film. I really enjoyed it. The relationships are the best part. It’s tremendously satisfying to be a fly on the wall, witnessing the long-term friendship between Frankie and Scrap, and watching the love build between Frankie and Maggie. It’s also very touching. I’ve heard a lot of people say that this movie is depressing. While it does have a sad ending, I didn’t find it depressing. I thought that it was beautiful. Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for stories that involve people doing whatever it takes for the people they love.

I give the movie 4.25 stars.


Cindy M. said...

I liked this movie. I'm a sucker for Clint Eastwood. I was hoping you would too.

Patricia said...

I liked it too. It's also the movie that made me understand why the people of Portland will never fluoridate their water.

I liked how dedicated Hilary Swank was to her sport. We don't get a lot of that with women in sports in movies.

Patricia said...

PS. By the time this movie came out, we were friends! I guess that's true for the last couple of movies, but I've just realized it.

balyien said...

Cindy - I think the two I've seen for this project are the only Clint Eastwood movies I've ever seen all the way through. Does he have range? So far all I've seen from him is "grizzled old coot," haha.

P - I don't get the fluoride reference. I must have missed something? I really liked how Maggie was tough without being a total bitch. You hardly ever see that in movies of any sort.