discount-viscount asked: I'm not big into sports movies myself but I enjoyed The Fighter. Most of it was Bale, to be honest. And Melissa Leo.
Yeah, Bale/Leo is the entertainment. I get that Marky Mark is supposed to be dull—that’s his character—but it still comes off…dull. To answer someone’s question as to why I didn’t like The Fighter, please allow me to hijack this answer. A couple things:
The Fighter is pretty basic bitch. I mean, it’s a sports movie, so it’s gotta follow a formula, I get that. And it’s a boxing movie, so it’s gotta be even extra formulaic, I got that too. Where boxing movies make their bones is almost entirely how they frame the conflict (physical, mental, spiritual, whatever the case may be) visually. David O. Russell doesn’t impress me much and the boxing scenes were extremely average. I think the “HBO POV” style they used was supposed to make the fights more immediate and put me in the place of a spectator watching the fight on TV (as I am periodically watching the footage of Dicky’s drug documentary), but I’m already conscious of watching a movie—do I really need another layer of meta-reality? I don’t know. It just struck me as a visual flare without real weight or import in the storytelling. The grainy, dated HBO look has the extra offense of being particularly ugly to look at, which is another point against it.
Second, I’m supposed to care about these characters, right? Because they’re based on real people? Only problem is, they’re cartoon characters. Dicky & Micky’s sisters are total stereotypes, played as broadly as possible and for comic relief. Fine. But then I’m actually supposed to care about them as human beings? Uh-uh. Either they get multi-dimensionality or I get to laugh at them with no consequences, but not both ways. I’m also starting to get pretty fed up with this Massachusetts white trash trend we’ve been going through the past couple years. It’s offensive. Just close your eyes and imagine the characters in The Fighter are black. They’re still based on real people, but they’re black. Uncomfortable yet? But because they have funny accents and big hair, we can yuck it up at their working class ridiculousness. So, either we start calling everything even and knock off the controversy for things like Precious—or hey, what a revolutionary idea—we don’t treat poor people like cartoon characters to make upper middle class Oscar voters feel good about themselves.
In addition, Russell’s choice of blaring pop & rock music was extremely grating. I don’t know if that was just a personal annoyance because I haven’t seen it cited as a distraction by many reviews, but to me it smacked of crass commercialism and did little to set up time or place.
More successful for setting the tone: costuming and makeup, which were perfectly ugly in that way only ’90s fashion can be. Sometimes it was subtle, like in Micky’s wardrobe where you can barely notice the story’s not modern, and sometimes it was seamlessly white trashy in that Jerry Springer-ish, fashion of out time kind of way.
I don’t know…I was going to write a review of the film when it came out, but I was so bored with the whole thing, I didn’t bother. So, that’s an indicator of how little I care about The Fighter. Average boxing flick. Average family drama flick. B-I-G acting performances, a couple of Oscars, blah blah. Not too terrible, but kinda middlebrow and a pretty shallow, cliched script.