The Fighter: A Movie Review

WHO’S GONNA TRAIN ME?! Did you know that The Fighter, based on the novel Mickey Ward by Precious, is David O’Russell’s first movie in six years? Whoops. I mean, come on, that guy is so good at making movies! I know that I Heart Huckabees was problematic, but he really should be making more movies. What a shame. (He did make a political comedy movie in between called Nailed starring Jake Gylenhaal and Tracy Morgan, but Hollywood has shelved it because if there is one thing we know about Hollywood it is that they are all about SMART CHOICES.) Supposedly it was also very hard for David O’Russell to get this movie made. WHY? Why was this movie hard to make?! Great director, great cast, everyone likes sports underdogs, relatively low budget. “Sounds great, David, but could you make the boxers ROBOTS?” Is that what happened? Ugh. How do you sleep at night, showbiz? Let me guess: DIAMOND PILLOWS. Anyway, The Fighter, you guys. Very good movie. Here is a movie review of it:

Uh, it was super good? Cool. Where do I pick up my Pulitzer?

The Fighter tells the “true” (movie-style) story of real life boxer Mickey Ward from Lowell Massachusetts who came from a boxing family. His older brother, Dicky Eklund, is a local celebrity after one time, in the 70s, he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight (maybe). Oh, he’s also a crack addict. Big time. When the movie opens, Dicky is being trailed by an HBO camera crew who are making a documentary about his comeback. Just kidding. They are making a documentary about crack. Eek. Basically, Mickey Ward’s family is a mess and they are keeping him from becoming A CHAMP. After a cop fight when Mickey gets his hand broken and Dicky goes to jail, Mickey starts making new decisions. He’s got a cool girlfriend who is some tough stuff, and together they start trying to figure out WHO IS GONNA TRAIN HIM. But can Mickey Ward be a champ without his family? Maybe. Maybe NOT! Eventually, SPOILER ALERT, Mickey Ward’s family makes up with Mickey Ward’s girlfriend and also the boxing gym owner and also the guy with the moustache in the suit, and Mickey Ward goes on to be a WONDERFUL BOXER! Yay!

The Fighter is basically Black Swan for dudes minus the loud spooky horror noises and the nail-clipping. Both movies are about peak-performers struggling to lift themselves from the shadows of their terrible families in order to achieve greatness at the risk of great personal harm. Both films are very well crafted examinations of self-doubt manifesting into self-actualization. THINK ABOUT IT!!!! (It gets complicated, I guess, because if Black Swan is Fight Club for girls, and The Fighter is Black Swan for dudes, then The Fighter is Fight Club for hermaphrodites? Did I do that right? That makes sense, though, I guess. It’s certainly no dumber or less sensical than Tron: Legacy.)

How is Mark Wahlberg so good? There are so many suggestions that he should be the worst. “Good Vibrations” is a good song, but the rest of his songs were bunk. Underwear model. Work out cassettes. DUDE FUCKING CREATED ENTOURAGE AND WORSE THAN THAT MUCH OF IT IS BASED ON HIS LIFE. And yet, here we are, living in a world in which Mark Wahlberg is one of the most compelling and enjoyable actors around. Love him. Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear, he is very good in this movie.

Speaking of good in this movie: hi, Christian Bale! His body is really talented at being skinny sometimes, huh? I really liked this stupid quote from David O’Russell in this New York Times article about the movie where he referred to Christian Bale’s acting process as “disappearing to his workshop.” Huh? What? Workshop? He does like to get skinny, though. Him and 50 Cent. When he’s playing a role like this, Christian Bale never breaks being skinny even when the cameras aren’t rolling. Normally, I’m not a very big fan of STUNTING in movies (think Nicole Kidman’s nose in The Hours or Charlize Theron’s FACE in Monster) because it always seems to replace acting with cosmetics, but man, Christian Bale, very good at acting, you guys. And very weird during the closing credits when they show a clip of the real Dicky Eklund talking and you are like, yup, nailed it.

If The Fighter is Black Swan for dudes, though, what is most surprising is that the real stars of the movie are the ladies. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are great, but the woman who plays their mother Alice is even better. And the women who play their sisters? Don’t even get me started! Is there such a thing as a group Oscar that you can award to a multi-headed white trash hydra beast? Give it. And let them make as long of an acceptance speech as they need to because I want to hear this.

Amy Adams was also terrific.

Can I also just say how nice it can be to see someone fucking WIN? But, like, REALLY win? Sure, it’s plenty easy to find happy endings in movies. That is almost all there is. But happy endings are so expected and so UNEARNED and IMPOSSIBLE that they’ve lost their value. In reaction, of course, we have the rise of the art house Unhappy Ending that pulls all the wool off of all the sheeple’s eyes and forcibly reminds us of what an awful world full of absurdist ambiguity we all live in as if we didn’t know that based on our DAILY EXPERIENCES IN IT. There is a time for those endings as well, they have an enjoyment factor all their own, I’m not saying they don’t, but whatever leeway or smoke and mirrors were used to make Mickey Ward’s story more Hollywood, it’s still a thing that actually happened, and to see him triumph was still exciting and happy-making, and that’s not really a thing that we get enough of sometimes. We deserve excitement and happiness you guys, just like Mickey Ward deserved his shot at the title.

Anyway, REALLY good movie is my point.