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Million Dollar Baby (2004)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Boxing, Drama, Melodrama, Sports Drama
Director:
Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood
Starring:
Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood
Hilary Swank Hilary Swank
Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman
Jay Baruchel Jay Baruchel
Mike Colter Mike Colter
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7.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 10, 2006
Tonight's masterpiece of a film centers around three characters and the interaction between them. The characters in question are boxing trainer / manager Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), Frankie's friend and former boxer Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman), and a female new to the world of boxing in Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). The storyline begins when Maggie walks into Frankie's gym and requests that he personally train her, but Frankie will have none of that; after all, he says, how could he hope to retain any type of respect in his own gym if he went on to train a woman to compete in the ring? However, after he loses his prize fighter to another manager and after Maggie persists for weeks on end, Frankie finally gives in and decides to train this young lady. The rest of the movie details the boxing career of Maggie and, more importantly, the father-daughter type of relationship that grows between the two.

There's a hell of a lot more to the storyline that what I wrote above, but giving it away would completely ruin the movie for those of you who haven't seen it. Personally, not knowing how this movie would turn out is what kept me away from it for so long; I knew that it was a boxing drama, but I didn't know that it would be this damned good. I was expecting something along the lines of Rocky with more drama thrown in, and when you consider that I hate sports-related movies and drama is far from my preferred genre, I didn't expect this to be something that I would enjoy. However, nothing could be further from the truth on all accounts. Again, I won't spoil it, but this movie takes a highly-unexpected twist near the middle of the running-time that completely changes the course of the movie, a twist that changed my opinion of the film from "Well, it's not exactly bad..." to "Oh my God, now I see why this movie managed to win so many awards."

What makes the film work so well is the storyline itself and the performances given by the cast. The storyline, which is based on a true story (though how much truth is shown in this film is up in the air), manages to captivate from the moment it begins. As I mentioned, I highly dislike sports-themed movies, and while boxing is an integral part of the storyline, that is not the extent nor even the main focus of the film at hand. The main part of the film is the relationship between Frankie and Maggie and the adversity that this young woman overcomes to achieve her dream. Again, I'm not a fan of drama, but the way that this is handled and the way that the story is told is magnificent.

The storyline works out nicely, but what makes the film so memorable is the actors and actress that are telling said story. I think we all know how great Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman are in front of the camera, so I won't waste time praising them; it'd be something along the lines of saying that grass is green or the sky is blue - it's just a fact, no need to point it out. Their performances here are no exception to that rule, but the real shocker is the performance given by Hilary Swank. I've never seen the lady in action before, and after looking at her other roles, I wasn't expecting much. The lady turns out to be highly believable in her role, and she never gives off the impression that you're watching an actress play a part; she really seems to be a real person in a real situation, and you just happen to be in the room (or the boxing arena) watching it unfold. My hat is definitely tipped to her, and I can see why Clint chose her for this role - she's perfect for it, and I can't think of another actress who could have played it better.

For people like me, this movie has a lot going against it - it's sports-related, it's a drama, and it was the very definition of "over-hyped" when it was released. The first two turn out to be a non-issue thanks to how well everything works out, and this is one of the very few instances where the final product lives up to the hype surrounding it. My only regret here is that it took me almost a year to get around to picking up the DVD, but I'm extremely glad that I finally decided to give it a viewing. 10/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 05/17/2006, 02:29 AM
Not much to say. This was one of the most hyped films of 2004, and it lived up to all of that hype. Clint Eastwood delivered a whallop of a film here, that will likely go down as one of the all-time greats in American cinema. The performances are phenomenal, the twist is unexpected, sharp, and trully heartwrenching, and I think this might have the greatest scene ever with Morgan Freeman stepping into the ring. Wow. 10/10.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 01/04/2009, 03:33 PM
Didn't live up to the hype in the least. It was a solid movie, but it didn't get me all weepy like I thought it would. It was just, there.
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