TMG Scale: 7.5
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale
Not many folks get very excited about a boxing film, least not TMG. I love sports films but what can you do that’s new with boxing that Stallone did not do with the Rocky franchise or DeNiro did not do in Raging Bull (1980). Well, you throw in a trashy Mom and seven dumber than dirt sisters and you sort of get something funny and different. You have to credit Mark Wahlberg as welter weight boxer Micky Ward and Amy Adams as his girlfriend, Charlene Fleming for hard nosed, but genuine romance. The cast was a balanced group of actors playing totally unbalanced people. Somehow it worked pretty well.
The film basically chronicles the rise of welterweight boxer Micky Ward from his gym in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1993 to becoming the Light Welterweight Champion of the World Boxing Union in 2000. The struggle was perhaps less about his fights in the ring and more with a bizarre and dysfunctional family and too much loyalty to his older half brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Eklund is a drug addicted former wannabe boxer livng in the past but genuinely wanting the best for his little brother when he is not so stoned as to know the difference. Melissa Leo weighs in strong as his overbearing mom, Alice. Alice is a caricature of a caricature of an overbearing mom of a child star. Lindsay Lohan’s mom Dina, could have played this role as herself. But the seven sisters really stole the show at times. I can only hope and pray that Micky Ward’s real sisters were more appalled than proud of their portrayal.
This film ends on a high note but you sense Micky Ward, his career, his family and his brother had a great deal of ups and downs yet to come. And they continue to carry on in Lowell, Massachusetts as minor league celeb perennials.
I was a bit creeped out at how much weight Bale had to lose for this role, but it made him convincing as a crack addict. I also noticed for the first time how drastically Wahlberg’s left shoulder droops. He must have had several bad shoulder separations in his younger days because his shoulders are more lopsided than Melissa Leo’s fake breasts. I never noticed this about Wahlberg before because he almost always is shown covered in a hoodie, except perhaps for his notable role in Date Night (2010). [Note: It took a full one and half hours into this film before he donned a single hoodie] Watch and you will notice they mostly shoot Wahlberg from the right side. I also need to go back and check, but the boxing gym set on this film looks like it was used in Million Dollar Baby (2004). Just a curiosity. Oscar potential in this film is nil to none but it was enjoyable and fun.