Five days in a film festival and the only other movie I got to see other than the ones I programmed was on the plane going home. And what, out of nine choices including Corpse Bride and The Brothers Grimm did I decide to watch?
I know, I know, it's my fault; I did want to see if there was anything at all redeeming in this flick (I'd already seen the Burton and the Gilliam), and as it turns out, there was; just not enough to actually redeem this flick.
Paul Giamatti was okay--okay, actually, he was the only thing watchable, though I can't see anything he did that Mickey Rooney couldn't do better. Russell Crowe was gravely convincing; problem is, he's been gravely convincing for the past five or so years. He has to play villain again, or a comic role, just to get some variety; he needs a serious dose of lighten up. Renee Zellwegger I shouldn't like, but I have a thing for pouty lips.
As for Ron Howard, well, Opie as I like to call him when I'm feeling good has this way of taking the obvious, finding the most obvious thing about it, and stating it as obviously as possible. A boxer, a family man who falls on hard times, struggles to keep his family, rising miraculously to sudden fame and success; a story like that can turn sappy if you're not careful. Howard very carefully, very deliberately takes the material and makes it even sappier. You can tell that this man is very much in touch with his feelings; whether or not you at all care is a different issue altogether.
He's just like a guy about to step into his car, asking the parking lot attendant if he had to watch out for anything driving out and the attendant saying "no, the asphalt's smooth as a baby's bottom, but you have to watch that big pothole right there in the middle." The guy looks to where the attendant is pointing, nods, goes in, turns on the engine, steps on the gas, and drives straight for the pothole.