Cinderella Man (2005)
Ron Howard's 2005 depiction of the plight of former heavyweight champion James J. Braddock is a Hollywood film in the vein of Forrest Gump. It's pure Hollywood cinema.
The story of the Cinderella Man is set during the Great Depression era in America. When Braddock breaks his hand during a match forcing him into retirement, he finds himself barely getting by working as a longshoreman. Braddock goes from losing his home, barely scraping by, to getting an opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship as one of the biggest underdogs in boxing history.
Part of what the film does so well is bringing the audience on a voyage of a man who is down on his luck and viewing the struggle to get back to prominence one step at a time.
Cinderella Man has an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Russell Crowe as Braddock, Rene Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti. Separating himself is Paddy Considine, who is most recently best known for his role in HBO's House of the Dragon, delivering the most grounded portrayal as Braddock's friend and co-worker, Mike Wilson.
The fights themselves aren't spectacular but are serviceable enough to increase the drama. The battles give viewers a chance to root for Braddock, similar to an actual fight. Braddock as a protagonist, is easy to cheer for as you watch him go through a journey and never come out of character. He never allows his situation to dictate how he treats people. The influences Rocky has on this film are told in how Crowe portrays Braddock.
The advantage that Cinderella Man has is that it is a family movie at heart. One that almost anyone can watch; it never goes off the rails, becoming too violent or intimate.
Admittingly, Cinderella Man can be, at times, corny or hokey and feel too much like a Hollywood production, but it has enough grit and story to stay popular years after its release.