Friday, August 12, 2005

Million Dollar Baby: Darn those Oscar Winners!

I know it's really bad form to knock Oscar winners but I did not like this movie. I tried, though, but I just couldn't do it. I usually avoid obvious chick flicks like the plague but this one was cleverly disguised as a good movie, one that everyone must see. MDB wasn't a chick flick exactly, or a date movie. I put it more into the Grandma/Grandpa class with the aging Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. Plus, it was sad, and, while I can appreciate honest movies without happy endings, this one hit too many sad buttons for one evening. (Whew! That was a lot of commas!)

Anyway, let's talk about the good and the bad. Danger, our boxing gym groupie, was a hoot. I enjoyed his antics and was genuinely pissed when he was attacked by those gym thugs. Lucia Rijker was excellent as Billie, the title holder Maggie fights. She was one scary lady, with her powerful shoulders and evil look in her eye. Reminded me of riding the bus in NYC.

I was confused about a couple of things with Maggie's character. One of the problems she had was her age. She's supposed to be "too old" when she's taken on by Frank. I can handle that she doesn't have much education but her goggle-eyed naivete runs really deep for a 31 year old. What has she been doing for the past ten or eleven years? Honing her waitress skills and dreaming about boxing? (I'm not even going to discuss her gross practice of stealing leftovers, it's too desperate). There's no man, or illegitimate kids about. Only the estranged relationship with her family. That didn't wash for me. Although I did like her flaw! In a candid moment she asks Frank an odd question: "how much does she (his daughter) weigh?" Reacting to his confusion she reveals, "in my family, trouble comes by the pound." That was a terrific line, and I loved it. Harboring a deep prejudice against the overweight humanized her for me.

One of my favorite characters was the F-bomb-dropping Catholic priest. We don't see him very often but I believed in his frustration with Frank and his annoying questions about faith. His advice to Frank at the end of the movie was right on, but, since Frank hasn't listened to him for the last 20 years he wasn't going to start then.

After being accepted by Frank, the training begins. With probably some more annoying voice over from Morgan Freeman, we get the workout montage. Every good transformation movie has a workout montage! Remember GI Jane? And those one-armed pushups? Ah, those were the days, Demi. But I digress. Anyway, Hillary's strength and physical fitness was something to be admired. And she can even be forgiven for wearing that ugly blue dress at the Oscar's for wanting to show off her back.

Sad to say, I found Million Dollar Baby really boring. It was about fifteen minutes too long and the pacing too slow. And while I don't want to do any spoilers here, I found the very end of the movie fell flat in the believability department. The type of thing that happens is, in this country, a crime that would have been investigated as such. Going off for a slice of pie didn't cut it for me. (No pun intended).

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