Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I admit it. I love movies about fighters. Whether it’s Rocky, Warrior, Raging Bull, The Fighter, Cinderella Man, or just about anything else, I’m all the way in. I have a slight heart-boner just thinking about it. We can pretend that Never Back Down never happened, right?
I went out and watched Southpaw this week, and the tradition continued. I loved that shit. It followed the tradition of taking everything I love about fighting and combining it with an interesting story and characters. It was well worth my time.
Now, I was excited for this movie for months. Like I said, I love combat sports and the movies they inspire. However, I was not at all impressed by the trailer. It seemed generic and typical, and I was bothered by the fact that such a hugely important moment (the death of his wife) was spoiled so quickly. We could have done with simply seeing that he went from his highest high to his lowest low. Then again, what do I know? I write movie reviews for fun. Who the fuck does that!? So I was not going into the movie with the presumption that it was going to change my life, but I was still excited.
Southpaw went above and beyond my expectations. Jake Gyllenhaal was fantastic as the borderline punch drunk boxer Billy Hope, and I am always happy to see him take on new, interesting roles. I was also strangely happy with the fact that he looked muscular without looking like he had drowned himself in steroids. I tend to find the extreme changes that actors put their body through in short periods of time to be rather unlikely without help, so it was refreshing to see that Jake did not appear to have taken that path. Then again, he may have filmed the entire movie with a needle sticking out of his ass. As I said, what the hell do I know?
Rachel McAdams, though only briefly in the movie, did a fine job as Maureen, the wife of our troubled protagonist. I’d say I was spoiling the movie, but the filmmakers already did that with the trailer. She dies, okay? She fucking dies!
Little Oona Laurence (who names these fucking kids these days) did a fantastic job as Jake’s daughter. She brought a lot of emotion and feeling to her role and to the movie as a whole. If she keeps this up, she is going to be the next Punky Brewster or some shit.
As usual, Forest Whitaker stole the fucking show. I really can’t say enough about this guy. His career and his body of work has been nothing short of stellar. Even if Southpaw is not an award-winning type of movie, I can see Mr. Whitaker getting a nod for his work in the film. He’s just that awesome at life.
The movie had a real human feel that brought a lot of emotion forward. I really felt for the fictional Billy Hope and the struggle he was going through to get his life back together. Now, I didn’t cry (I’m not a sissy or a poor, old Native American on a littering commercial), but I definitely got the “feels.” You know…those little bugs that swarm through your body when something tugs at your heart strings. You’ve had them too!
I loved how non-motivational Jake was in this movie. That may sound weird, but it gets a little old hearing dipshit Rocky give these amazing speeches and monologues. Sometimes you want to hear from the uneducated boxer who fights simply because he’s fucking good at it. This wasn’t a movie about motivation; it was a movie about clawing your way out of the gutter. It gave it a very human quality that I loved.
Of course, some of it felt a little over-the-top, but hey…it’s boxing. It’s an over-the-top sport. It didn’t bother me. Even the fact that he BARELY used the damn southpaw position that is the name of the movie only slightly irritated me. They might as well have called it “Only Sort Of Southpaw…One Time.”
Overall, I loved this movie. I enjoyed the characters, the story, and the acting. It went beyond a simple movie about fighting and became a movie that everyone could enjoy as they rooted for the underdog to get his life back. I give it four and a half out of five.