#185: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

When and how did I watch this?

November 20th, 2015, on a friend’s Plex account.

Had I seen this film already?

Yes.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Pretty much everything: the starring roles, the overall plot, the critical accolades.  I can’t say it’s not a memorable film.

What do I know about it now?

The movie has changed for me since the last viewing.  While I was aware of the horrible plot twist most of the way into the film, it was far more annoying and less useful.  I enjoy the boxing aspect of it, because I’m a dude, but the remainder is too depressing to “enjoy”.  Surely a movie isn’t required to have a happy ending, but I felt Maggie’s demise was placed in the film to avoid the possibility of the film becoming too sentimental. Every movie, along with any literary art, needs a definitive, satisfying end (catharsis).  This one just leaves everyone hanging on. What happens to Blue Bear? Does Maggie’s family get served justice or not? Where does Scrap really fit into all this? I’m aware I’m defying critics along with the Academy, but it didn’t work for me.

What are some themes in the film?

Justice, betrayal, faith, determination, God, 1st century Rome/politics, death, vengeance, salvation, hope.

Did this affect me personally?

It made me angry at times.

Why is this ranked #185?

I think Americans have a love affair with boxing movies (Raging Bull, Rocky, Ali, The Fighter) and tough-guy Clint Eastwood.  The two got married just for this film, and people think it’s awesome. A slightly less well-known film that did not win Best Picture, Cinderella Man, is far better.  And then Rocky is well below this one.  I’m not sure what’s going on here besides some actor/Oscar favoritism. It’s okay, but not deserving of its rank.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She hated this movie.

Would I watch it again?

I think I’m done with this one.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s a sad, sad story. I don’t recommend a viewing unless you’re interested in seeing someone dying. Slowly.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

It could be, but I’m not convinced.  My initial take on the movie was okay, but the whole premise is brutal and difficult upon a second viewing and comparison with others on this list.  Its rank-neighbor Ben-Hur blows it away. AFI seems to have gotten it right: no Million Dollar Baby on their top 100, and Clint Eastwood is absent from the list altogether. Sometimes, the IMDb Top 250 just doesn’t make sense.

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