Academy Award® winners† Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger star in this triumphant, powerfully inspiring true story. In a time when America needed a champion, an unlikely hero would arise, proving how hard a man would fight to win a second chance for his family and himself. Suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, boxer Jim Braddock would defy the odds against him and stun the world with one of the greatest comebacks in history. Driven by love for his family, he willed an impossible dream to come true.
is a wholesome slice of old-fashioned Americana, offering welcomed relief from the shallowness of many summer blockbusters. In dramatizing the legendary Depression-era comeback of impoverished boxer Jim Braddock, director Ron Howard benefits from another superb collaboration with his A Beautiful Mind
star Russell Crowe, whose portrayal of Braddock is simultaneously warm, noble, and tenacious without resorting to even the slightest hint of sentimental melodrama. The desperate struggle of the Depression is more keenly felt here than it was in Seabiscuit
, and Howard shows its economic impact in ways that strengthen the bonds between Braddock, his supportive wife (Renée Zellweger) and three young children, and his loyal manager (Paul Giamatti); all are forced to make sacrifices leading up to Braddock's title bout against heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko) in one of greatest boxing matches in the history of the sport. Boasting the finest production design, cinematography and editing that Hollywood can offer, this is a feel-good film that never begs for your affection; it's just good, classical American filmmaking, brimming with qualities of decency and fortitude that have grown all too rare in the big-studio mainstream. --Jeff Shannon