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The Fighter

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo
Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Story by Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson & Keith Dorrington
Directed by David O. Russell

IN SHORT: Another Best of the Year.  [Rated R for language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality. 114 minutes]

Boxer Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is still known as "The Pride of Lowell" -- Lowell being a small town in Massachusetts. In his biggest pro bout, Dicky laid a glove on Sugar Ray Leonard, who makes a cameo appearance, and knocked the champ down. Dicky's been living on that memory ever since. He also sucks at a crack pipe when his manager slash mother Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) isn't around. Mickey's dad George (Jack McGee) is pretty much whipped

Dicky's half brother Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is proud of and lives in the shadow of his big brother. Mickey has got a wee bit of boxing talent in his gene pool but he hasn't found the necessary aggression that real boxers need to survive in the ring. He spends his time as his brother's sparring partner in the local gym. Micky fights when his mom can book a match. His career, as it is, has left him labeled as an easy takedown.

That "necessary aggression" thing we mentioned? It emerges with a wee bit of prodding from big brother when Mickey catches the eye of the girl tending bar. Her name is  Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), and it wasn't her eye that Mickey was looking at. Whatever it takes . . .

When one fight nearly gets him killed Charlene steps into the ring with mom, so to speak, over the path of Mickey's career. Charlene's way means breaking the management contract; heck, breaking all pro ties with mom and brother Dicky and signing with a different manager.

And if you're already thinking, yep, that means brother versus brother, you're thinking as Cranky did while watching The Fighter. You're wrong. That's all that there is to say about that.

And, yeah, it's another "based on true events story." What it isn't is a low rent Rocky, though it sure could've used the music. The Fighter is a story of brothers, and boxing is just a backdrop. That being said, that's a really terrific story to tell.

There's a boxing term that would describe what we've just written in more colorful terms, but we can't remember it at the moment. We are in great admiration for Mark Wahlberg's diligence at getting this story told. It's a terrific sit with as much for the femme side of the audience as the male.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Fighter, he would have paid . . .


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