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Eric M. Croas

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Million Dollar Baby worth every cent
By Eric M. Croas   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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My review of the DVD release: Million Dollar Baby.

I had wanted to see Million Dollar Baby in the theater, but I never made the time. When the DVD became available, I got it as soon as I could, and I’ve watched it twice so far.

It’s about an amazing trainer, Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), who knows how to train, prepare, and develop champion boxers—but he’s hesitant to take them to that final level. His fear stems from past tragedies that are briefly mentioned but never dwelled on. He also runs a boxing gym, whose members include a fighter ready to be a champion, a guy with the skills but not the heart, and a kid with the heart but no clue how to box.

Helping him run the gym is an old prizefighter, Scrap (Morgan Freeman), who’s blind in one eye from his former career. Dunn was in the corner when Scrap’s career came to an end, and he continues to take care of his old friend. It’s Scrap who narrates the movie. He’s also the one who introduces the audience and Dunn to Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank).

Maggie is a female boxer in her 30s, and in her Scrap sees raw talent that needs to be harnessed and trained. Dunn is more than reluctant when she asks him to train her, but it’s Maggie’s dogged relentlessness and Scrap’s confidence that eventually convince Dunn to work with her.

The meat of the film is about her training and fighting. Meanwhile, viewers watch Dunn deal with the skeletons in his closet as he struggles with religion and with his reluctance to allow Maggie to fight in a title match.

The last 45 minutes of the film will shock and upset viewers. I won’t give away specifics, but I will admit that I was upset. The end is a surprise—and if you see the film again, you’ll see a lot of things with a different level of understanding and appreciation.

I loved the honesty of this movie, and I felt a strong connection with most of the characters. I related with Dunn as he questioned issues he faced. I absolutely loved Maggie's determination to overcome the odds and the fuel that drove her to convince Dunn that she was trainable. I also loved the loyalty that Maggie had for Dunn, even when he held back on letting her fight for a title. I liked seeing Scrap help Maggie in the little ways. I also respected the relationship that Scrap and Dunn had because it really tied back to why Dunn held back in taking chances.

Like I said before, the end of the movie blew me away, and I certainly respect the decisions that were made and why they were made. Without telling exactly what happens, I’ll say that it is a true testimony to love, protection, and the strength of unbreakable bonds.

Extras on the DVD include the documentary Born to Fight, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a roundtable with Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman, which I highly recommend.

GRADE: A+ (Movie) A+ (DVD)

Web Site: Reel DVD News

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