My mom ordered this on pay-per-view. Watched with her, my grandma and uncle. I had wanted to see this in the theatre. After all, Ron Howard and Russell Crowe. Should be a good team.
Crowe is a mediocre boxer during the depression. The movie starts out with him in a fight and he breaks his right hand on a punch. Every day he stands in the crowd looking for work at the docks. Shortly after that bout he gets picked. That forces him to use his left arm for heavy lifting, building it up much stronger than it has ever been in the past. Albeit, that didn't occur to him at the time.
Then he gets a lucky break. They have a last-minute cancellation and he's to take on a contender for the title. Surprising everybody, he wins the bout. And suddenly he's a hot item.
The fighting is around half the story. The rest is his home life. He's out of money and behind on all his bills, like so many during that time. As they showed in the previews, he's a very proud man and steadfastly refuses to split up his family. He has (what are now) very old-fashioned values, that the man should provide. The wife shouldn't work, and the husband should never surrender and let anyone else take care of his family.
So that was one big chunk of the theme. Perseverance in the face of adversity. And standing up for one's values.
There's a little bit about how he handles the money and fame. For example, they show him going to the unemployment office and returning all the money he got from them while he was drawing unemployment. But that was only a teeny bit of the story.
Of course, they show his wife being concerned about his health. So I guess another chunk of theme was on weighing the risks of following one's dream. Boxing was what he lived for, and work was what he did between boxing matches. Until he got his break and boxing was able to support he and his family.
Also in the story was the power that the promoters have. How they seriously considered trumping up things that would prevent him from fighting. How they make money no matter what the outcome of the fight. Which is still true today, with Don King and his ilk.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Pay Per View with Popcorn and Drinks. A fairly straightforward feel-good boxing movie.
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