Million Dollar Baby’s Got No Backbone

By chance that Clint Eastwood’s new film Million Dollar Baby doesn’t get nominated for best picture despite all the critical acclaim and buzz it’s receiving, there’s still a good chance of it winning best animated film, cause lets face it, this film is a cartoon. In an attempt to steal Dodgeball’s subtitle “A True Underdog Story”, Eastwood has made a syrupy, goofy film about women’s boxing. Well, women’s boxing is actually just the backdrop for yet another story about redemption. How appropriate that Morgan Freeman co-stars and narrates.

Eastwood plays in grizzled splendor Frank Dunn, a boxing trainer and manager with his own gym, “The Hit Pit”, tended by his old friend and former client, Scrap, played by Freeman. One day, Maggie Fitzgerald, a girl whose escaped her white trash upbringing to fulfill her dream as a boxer stumbles into the gym to be trained. And as you’re probably used to in these sort of films, the more resistant Frank is at the beginning, just shows how dedicated he’ll by the ending. So, Maggie, trained and managed by Frank rises to the top of the boxing world, battling an evil German champion and her money-grubbing redneck family, both portrayed in stereotypical fashion. But more importantly than winning matches, Maggie and Frank find in each other the acceptance and strength they were looking for and couldn’t find elsewhere.

Is Million Dollar Baby a bad movie? No. Although trite at it’s best, and childish at it’s worst, thanks to the steady pacing (through most of the movie anyway), the beauty of the cinematography, and the ferocity of the fights themselves (The best since Raging Bull, hands down), the film rises from the depths of mediocrity and is actually enjoyable.

The schmaltziness is a bit much, and the script probably could have come out of a beginning creative writing class with all it’s plot-holes and caricatures, however, thanks to the movies flourish, the film is enjoyable to watch, if not downright laughable most of the time. It’s like a pretty hooker, in that you’ll probably enjoy the time your with her because of how hot she is, but then feel really ashamed and ripped off afterwards. With that thought in mind, it deserves a one-time rental, but none of the buzz it’s been getting. It’s been too good of a year in films to see something this one-note even get nominated in the first place.