After walking out of my local theater at close to midnight, I was surprised I was still up. That is how I knew that The Fighter was a good movie. I had not fallen asleep, and was, for the most part, captivated by a majority of the things that went on during the movie. (Why did I decide to go to a 10 PM showtime? Your guess is as good as mine). I knew I needed to see this movie when Sports Illustrated called it “One of the Best Boxing Movie of All-time” and “The Best Sports Movie of the Decade”. Then I realized that Sports Illustrated knows jack-(expletive) about movies, and went to go look at some reviews from real critics to decide if I should see it.
(My fascination and trust in critic’s reviews dates back to a few years ago, when, in succession, I saw the awful movies The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Nicolas Cage’s disastrous Knowing. Both were really bad sci-fi movies, a genre that I have no real interest to begin with, unless it is Star Wars. I like Star Wars. Anyway, from that day forward, I decided to take movie critic’s advice to heart and save myself from spending ten dollars on a horrible movie. Some of my friends think that it is weird that I base my movie choices on what the critic’s consensus is. Well, if 92% of people who are paid to watch movies says that Grown Ups sucks, then it probably sucks. Combine that with the fact that I already do not really want to see the movie, and I think you know my choice.
I would suggest Rotten Tomatoes as the best choice for anyone who has Critic-Obsession-Disorder like myself)
Let me get back to Sports Illustrated for a moment. How can The Fighter already be called the best sports movie of the decade, when the decade is only 360 days old? What was its competition, Secretariat? Calling it the best boxing movie of all-time is a little over the top. I still love the first four Rocky movies, and although I have yet to see Raging Bull, apparently it is the standard for boxing movies. So, The Fighter had a lot to live up to.
Well, it did. Especially in a down year for sports movies, The Fighter held strong.
The real heart of the movie is from the actor’s performances. Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and especially Christian Bale all gave Golden Globe nominated performances, which they deserved.You felt that the movies was less about boxing, then it was about these people’s lives. Which it was. There was probably only about 20 minutes of actual boxing or training in the movie, if that. The strength of the cast is really what gives the movie its legs.
When I left the movie I had a few questions.
SPOILER ALERT, here they are:
1) Why did Roy Jones Jr. sound like a robot?
Jones Jr. was the ringside announcers for most of the fights in the movie, and did his best impersonation of Bill Russell as a color commentator. He was really bad. It almost sounded like he had no idea what he was talking about, which is weird because A)He is one of the best boxers in history and B) He had a script. Maybe that is why he sounded so robotic. He was probably directly reading off the script, the same way Seth Meyers did when he first started Weekend Update. No matter what the issue was, Jones Jr. did not shed the proper light on the boxing scenes and how important they were.
2) How did Alice Eklund (Played by Melissa Leo) consider herself a good mother?
Throughout the film, all you hear from Alice is how great a manager and a mother she is. She really seems to believe this. There are a few problems with the chronically annoying Alice. She obviously only cares about the money that Micky is bringing in, and will make him fight literally anyone. Second, Dickey is obviously her favorite son, yet, she lets him go off to crackhouses and get arrested “27 times”. Finally, there are the seven daughters she has, all of which live from home. They are all in the mid –40’s, and she still is the caregiver for these fully grown women. They are basically the seven dwarves, only if the dwarves were regular sized and they all looked like Dopey. She is in the running for the Worst Mother of the Year Award, probably only behind 3-time winner Kate Gosselin. Leo does a fantastic job of making this real unlikable character. I can’t remember the last time I left a movie hating someone’s mom the most out of any of the characters.
3) Did Dicky Eklund stay sober after he dropped off his cake at the crack house?
Let me explain. In the movie, the climatic scene for Christian Bale’s character, Dicky, is when he is released from prison. He returns back to the gym where his brother Mickey, is preparing for his upcoming fight. Dicky strolls right in like he owns the place, but Mickey tells him to leave since he is too big a distraction. Of course, Mickey’s meddling mom (who had been fired by Mickey as his “manager”) brought his seven sisters over to celebrate Dicky returning from prison. She brought a cake. When Dicky finds out that Mickey wants him to leave, he storms off with the cake.
He brings the cake to the crack house where he had spent most of his time at. He drops it off, and walks away, and the viewer is led to believe that he never goes near crack again.
REAL LIFE SPOILER ALERT: He does. He got arrested for crack possession six years later and attempted murder three years after that arrest. Although it appears that the latter case will be thrown out, seriously, what the (expletive) are you thinking Dick? You got a son who is going to end up being more insane than Kurt Cobain’s kid. That is not even because your son has a drug-addicting daddy, it’s because he spends his time being cared for by Alice and the Seven Dwarves.
4) Is Christian Bale the greatest modern actor?
Still not sure. He is definitely the most dedicated, if anything. He gains and loses weight with the gusto of a high school wrestler. He lost thirty pounds for his role as Dick Eklund, and has lost way more than that before.
Apparently, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt were the original choices for Dick, but dropped out due to scheduling conferences. After watching The Fighter, it is really difficult to see anybody else as Eklund. You would have felt as if Pitt and Damon were in the movies, and that they were not someone else. Bale immerses himself in every role he plays.
You get the feeling that if Bale was in the Big Momma’s House franchise instead of Martin Lawrence, that he would have gotten a skin change and gained 215 pounds. That is how dedicated he is. There is no way that Bale does not win an Oscar for this role.
As for the greatest modern actor argument, he is in the top 5, maybe 3. Daniel Day-Lewis is still number one, and Leo DiCaprio always has to be listed. But Bale is in the category of elite actors today.
The Fighter is an excellent movie. I did not even get into how much I liked Amy Adams in this movie. Who thought the princess from Enchanted would be so convincing dropping F-bombs left and right, and beating up one of the Dopey’s. Wahlberg dedicated himself tp the movie as well, in the opposite of what Bale did. He gained a ton of muscle and shows off his boxing chops (well) in the fighting scenes. As far as where as it compares to the other movies I have seen this year, it probably falls in the middle.
The Movies I Have Seen This Year (In order of my favoritism/love/affection)
2. Toy Story 3
3. The Fighter
4. Get Him to the Greek
5. The Other Guys
6. Paranormal Activity 2
Inception was the best movie I saw this year, in case you were wondering or could not read my graph. PA2 was not bad, it just did not live up to my lofty expectations. I saw The Other Guys twice in theaters, but Get Him to the Greek had more laugh-falling-down moments. My love for Toy Story 3 is well-documented.
Rating for The Fighter: 3.5 out of 4 stars
A special shout out to the old(er) movies I saw this year: Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Mystic River, Rear Window, Reservoir Dogs, Almost Famous, The Godfather, The Godfather 2. I made sure I saw you guys so I could have some legitimacy in the movie-reviewing world.