Cinderella Man



Gritty boxing saga not for the faint of heart.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: December 4, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 144 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some characters pick fights to assert manly reputations.


Boxing scenes are intense and effectively constructed.


Husband and wife kiss earnestly.




Boxer sells "" to media, through interviews.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink beer, smoke cigarettes and cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the boxing scenes are intense, featuring slam-cuts, close-ups, brutal sound effects, and images of bloody, beaten flesh. The boxer and his family (including three young, adoring children) suffer poverty, cold winters with no heat, and hunger. Characters smoke, drink, use some language ("Go to hell"), and argue, sometimes vehemently. One character dies from a beating during a scuffle with police. The boxer and his wife kiss earnestly. The film's focus, however, is on its inspiring "message," namely, the underdog fighter -- too old, too small, and too out of practice -- returns to the ring, triumphant as if by sheer will and determination.

What's the story?

A mildly successful boxer who falls on hard times (a broken hand, some disappointing fights), Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe ) learns he's no longer marketable as a fighter; as the Depression takes hold, he can find only occasional work on the docks. Fiercely protective of wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and their young kids, Jim soon loses his home and, unable to make rent on their tiny basement apartment, swallows his pride in order to go on welfare. In a last-ditch effort to support his family, Jim turns to his former trainer and manager, Joe (Paul Giamatti), who manages to secure a fight for Jim. While most thought Jim to be too old and out of shape, his years of hard work on the dock and hard luck pulled him through, and he won that and many more fights that followed. Jim's success raised the spirits of those brought down by the Great Depression, and his fans were eager to watch him in the fight of his life: that against heavyweight champ Max Baer (Craig Bierko).

Is it any good?


Both heartening and formulaic, this boxing saga is buoyed by Russell Crowe's often remarkable performance. Based on the true story of James Braddock, Ron Howard's CINDERELLA MAN paints him as an inspiring, utterly sincere and admirable underdog. While Jim is surrounded by supporting types played by terrific actors -- good buddy Mike Wilson (Paddy Considine), mutteringly loyal trainer Joe Gould, hard-nosed promoter Jimmy Johnston (Bruce McGill) -- he remains the film's emotional and moral focus, always righteous and worthy, his personal crises mirroring those of his community (one scene shows the aftereffects of a riot and police violence in Central Park, where homeless folks are living in boxes and tents). When he returns to the ring and wins, he becomes a media sensation, a hero for Depression victims. He earns a shot at the heavyweight title, bumped up a weight class since his younger days and facing the arrogant and quite gigantic Max Baer (Craig Bierko), who once killed a man in the ring.

When immersed in Jim's melodrama (courtesy of Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman's hagiographic script), the movie is predictable and deliberate. But the boxing scenes are often stunning, deftly paced, beautifully shot, and eerily subjective. While slow motion lends an overt and familiar poetry to such violence, the more effective shots come faster and more aggressively (and so, perhaps worrisome for younger viewers), punctuated by crowd reactions (some almost as disturbing as the fighters' battered faces). Surprisingly imaginative, these images can be jarring enough to alleviate some of the sappy factor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Great Depression, when many families were unexpectedly poor and afraid. Families might also consider the particular dedication and strength shown by the resilient Braddocks, who resolved to stay together in the face of many setbacks.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 3, 2005
DVD release date:December 6, 2005
Cast:Paul Giamatti, Renee Zellweger, Russell Crowe
Director:Ron Howard
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:144 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense boxing violence and some language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bylisap April 9, 2008
Parent of a 12 year old Written bylittleone522 January 31, 2011

Mild language my a**

Although this type of movie is really not my thing, I thought I'd review it before letting my son watch. Concerns parents might have with this movie are as follows: -Some pretty intense boxing violence -People seen smoking both cigarettes and cigars -People seen drinking -Coarse Language: Use of "a_s" 6 times Use of "a_shole" 1 time Use of "sh_t" 2 times Use of "Bullsh_t" 2 times Use of "Bast_rd" 3 times Use of "son of a b_tch" 2 times Use of "god da_n" 5 times Use of "Jesus Chr_st" 4 times Use of "Chr_st sake" 2 times Use of "hell" 7 times Some positive messages in this movie include: -never give up, no matter what -and a great message on "stealing" Because of the language in this movie I feel it is not appropriate for children to watch if they are under the age of 13.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul April 9, 2008


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