Monday, August 2, 2010

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The first time I watched Million Dollar Baby (2004) and he’s got a serious problem with Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank (he thinks Clint is a terrible actor and Hillary looks like a man – which could be due to the fact we’ve seen Boys Don’t Cry at least five times), so needless to say, I was unable to truly enjoy this piece of film. But because he moaned and bitched through the entire movie, I was able to watch it for the 365 Oscar Project like I had never seen it before. I wasn’t too excited to watch a movie about boxing, but this movie really wasn’t about boxing at all. The story of the two main characters really helped me through the nearly two and a half hour epic. Plus, who wouldn’t want to watch a movie narrated by Morgan Freeman? He’s FABULOUS.

Okay, so the movie tells the story of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) who is a semi-washed up boxing coach with one star pupil left. He runs a pretty crappy looking gym where Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), a former boxer, works as a janitor. Scrap-Iron was injured in his 109th fight, causing him to lose his eyesight in one eye. Frankie feels guilty that he didn’t stop Scrap-Iron from fighting, which is why he lets him work and live at the gym.

Those that practice at the gym are a pretty rag-tag group of young men and one woman, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank). Maggie is an incredibly poor waitress that comes from a very poor family. She’s just a girl with a dream. She’s 31, which Franking thinks is too old for a woman fighter. When Frankie loses his star fighter he decides to take Maggie on despite his reservations to train a woman. His insistence that women can’t fight is actually quite insulting now that I think about it.

Throughout the movie we learn that there’s something strange and sad about Frankie. We see multiple boxes in his closet full of ‘return to sender’ letters that he has written to his daughter Kate. He also goes to church every day and while the movie never straight out tells the view why he does this, it’s implied that he has some sort of guilt built up surrounding his daughter.

Maggie doesn’t have a dad. Can you see where this is going?

Maggie turns out to be a pretty darn good fighter with Frankie’s help and the two form a relationship that a blind man could have seen coming 100 miles away. They eat lemon meringue pie together and talk about life. Maggie tells a story about her father and how he put her childhood dog out of its misery after it got sick. It’s really touching.

Maggie begins begging Frankie to get her a title fight. He is resistant to the idea, but finally gives in. Maggie fights this really nasty, mean looking woman and takes a nasty blow to her neck. Her spine is permanently injured, leaving her paralyzed.

Frankie takes care of Maggie each and every day and tries to find a doctor that can heal her. Unfortunately, nothing can be done. Maggie is placed into a nursing home. Her deadbeat mother comes to see her once and attempts to get Maggie to sign a power of attorney, which would leave her money to her mother if she died. Maggie tells her to piss off and Frankie becomes the only family she has.

Maggie becomes incredibly depressed and bites her tongue, hoping she’ll bleed to death. (Can the tongue bleed that much? I’m skeptical.) She asks Frankie if he remembers the story she told him about her father putting her childhood dog down (and you can hear the audience gasp as they realize how this whole movie is going to end). Frankie ponders the idea of what truly living means, and in the end decides to help Maggie die. He calls her “my darling”, the Irish phrase he had written on the back of her boxing robe, and gives her a shot of adrenaline. She dies. Whoa, heavy.

Scrap-Iron returns as the narrator and we learn that he has been writing a letter to Katie, Frankie’s daughter, telling her the story of Frankie and Maggie. He says that Frankie never returned to the gym and that he just wanted Katie to know what kind of guy her father was. The last shot of the movie is Frankie eating lemon meringue pie.

I watched this movie when Mother Nature had brought my monthly gift, and let me tell you, it DEVISTATED me. I cried for a week. Just a warning for all you sensitive ladies out there.

Here's the trailer for Million Dollar Baby.  Again, who wouldn't want to watch this movie after hearing Morgan Freeman's voice?

Million Dollar Baby was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), and Best Actress (Hillary Swank).

If you’re looking for a well acted tear-jerker about loyalty, I highly recommend Million Dollar Baby. I give it four statuettes out of five. Well played, Clint, well played.

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