Two nights ago, I paid money to see a movie for only the second time this calendar year. It was well worth it.

Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man is a moving representation of the story of James Braddock, a boxer who earned the name “Cinderella Man” for his fightDetails about the real Braddock are here, and if the site is reputable, the movie is accurate. Braddock’s career began with a rise to the top that ended with a 15-round decision that he lost. After that, the market crashed and Braddock’s luck turned. Braddock endured a string of defeats that led to his being barred from boxing. After spending time on the docks, Braddock is given one more fight which begins his improbable return to glory.

The movie, if predictable and sappy, is very enjoyable. Crowe’s representation of Braddock is compelling, though his New Jersey accent is inconsistent. Zellweger’s presence is not astounding, but certainly doesn’t detract from the movie. What’s more, it even had a ‘family friendly’ theme and a broadly agreeable presentation of Christianity. Though Braddock insists that “we must have some say in what goes on down here” and seems to move away from church, he seems more burnt out on shallow Christianity than anything else. An otherwise unnecessary final shot of a priest who thanks God for Braddock’s win suggests that the filmmakers aren’t wholly committed to Braddock’s soft humanism.

In all, the movie is a very emotionally engaging and satisfying experience. I highly recommend it to anyone able to watch fairly intense boxing scenes. You will find yourself saddened by Braddock’s plight and urging him on to victory. I hope that despite a paltry 18.3 million opening weekend, this movie can become a success. Go see it and take your friends. If you enjoy happy endings, you won’t be disappointed.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Sounds like it’s the October Sky of boxing flicks–formulaic, but immensely watchable.


  2. That’s it, Jim. Wish I had thought of that.


  3. That’s it, Jim. Wish I had thought of that.


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