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Cinderella Man is a true story from the Great Depression. Also like that film, it is about an underdog who becomes a hero and a symbol of hope for the downtrodden. Seabiscuit, of course, was a racehorse and, like the subject of this movie, was considered to be past his “use by” date, making his triumph that much sweeter for those who cheered him on.
At the beginning of Cinderella Man, Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) is a successful boxer enjoying a comfortable lifestyle with his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger) and their three children. Five years later, Braddock is crushed by the Depression; a broken hand has lost him matches, his boxing licence has been revoked and he and his family have moved from their house to a cramped apartment. Unable to pay the bills, he takes work on the docks but the family slips deeper into debt.
A chance to get back into the ring comes with a last minute offer to fight from his former manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti). It's been a year since his last bout and no one expects him to win over his opponent – a leading contender. But win, he does – and he continues to do so, showing a remarkable left hook that he has developed on the docks while favouring his left arm against his injured right. He's so impressive that boxing promoter, Jimmy Johnston (Bruce McGill) reinstates his licence.
Always with the thought of keeping his family together, Braddock goes from strength to strength, but while he becomes the people's champion, Mae – fearful of seeing him hurt – is unable to attend his fights. With victory following victory, Braddock is soon able to achieve what not so long ago would have seemed impossible – a chance for a title fight against the much favoured heavyweight champion, Max Baer (Craig Bierko) – a boxer so powerful he has already killed two opponents.
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