Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

: Million Dollar BabyUSA, directed by Clint Eastwood, with Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman

It’s a well made film, but I didn’t really like it. To be fair, Million Dollar Baby suffers the same uphill battle to please as does Sideways right now. These two movies have been put on so many Best lists, won so many awards on the road to the Oscars, and been hailed by so many critics, they can’t help but fail to live up to the hype. I know many people who were deflated by their response to Sideways. The same holds true for me with Baby.

Million Dollar Baby is about a crotchety boxing trainer who grudgingly takes on a scrappy 31-year-old woman with dreams of being a contender. The acting by the three leads is first-rate, though Clint Eastwood will always be “Clint Eastwood as…” for me; he doesn’t really act, he just is. I could have done without Morgan Freeman’s cliche filled Shawshankesque narration. And I hated the character of Danger, an out-of-place bit of comic relief. The cinematography and lighting are the real standout, muted, somber and heavy with shadow. And Clint’s soundtrack? Well, like Oscar-nominee John Williams, I think all his soundtracks sound alike.

On my Netflix 2-cents-worth review I said that I left the theater no different than when I went in. Not really what you’d hope for after a two-and-a-half-hour-and-nine-buck investment. It was nothing original and in the end, it failed to move me. The big element of drama turned out to be predictable and manipulative. Not to mention an Oscar voter’s wet dream.

I thought I liked Clint Eastwood more as a director, but looking over his filmography just now (and clearly remembering how much I disliked Mystic River,) I realize I’m misremembering. My strong recollection of Unforgiven, a movie I really liked, has colored that perception. And Million Dollar Baby doesn’t convince me otherwise. [**1/2]

5 thoughts on “Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

  1. Your insightful reviews save me lots of money on tickets and popcorn. Isn’t it sad, that most of the really GOOD movies were produced years ago or in foreign countries?

  2. Way to wait two months to see a much-buzzed about movie and then claim that, alas, the lemmings are misguided. Perhaps you would have liked “Million Dollar Baby” more if it were a silent film directed by a routinely praised Japanese master.
    Raj: Keep in mind that most of the films produced overseas never make it over to the U.S.. Why, you ask? Because they’re absolute shit. We get the creme de la creme of the overseas production (and even a lot of that is crud).
    Shizz B. Real’s verdict? You both have awful, often pretentious taste.

  3. Shizz,
    To each his own. I’m confused though. Why do you bother to visit if you find nothing of value here? Just to give me crap by leaving your rude anonymous comments? Thanks but no thanks. Move on.

  4. Why do I troll your site? Because it’s entertaining to read your oft-misguided, middle-aged rants. In fact, it’s hilarious!
    And why do YOU post? Do you really think your opinion matters? Or are you merely hoping to get a few spare pennies here and there from lame redirects to Amazon products?

  5. Interesting thoughts… I had quite the opposite opinion, however. I thought it was a simple movie, made more complex by some wonderful physical performances… For instance, Hillary Swank’s character had very little dialog, but her character has range and depth because of the power of her eyes and face.
    And the twist in the end (which I won’t reveal for your readers who haven’t seen it yet) is treated with a real discussion of the issues, both human and moral.
    It wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, but I thought it was very good.

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