Ron Howard, director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, knows a crowd-pleasing story when he sees one.

In 1935, boxer Jimmy Braddock completed one of the most amazing comebacks in sports history, going from a Depression-era soup line to a title bout with heavyweight champion Max Baer, who was famous for doing severe—even deadly—damage to his foes. Braddock inspired not just sports fans, but a whole nation. He was a savior to his family, who had fallen on hard times.

Howard, reuniting with the Oscar-winning team of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and star Russell Crowe, in combination with the talents of actors Paul Giamatti and Rene Zellweger, has turned Braddock's story into a heavyweight Oscar contender. It's a handsomely crafted film, winning cheers from viewers and critics.

Most Christian film critics rate it as a knockout.

Russ Breimeier (Christianity Today Movies) calls it "an excellent drama that relies on heart and action instead of schmaltz and melodrama. It's not quite a heavyweight champion worthy of Best Picture, but it is one of the year's first serious Oscar contenders because of its strong performances and skilled directing. Cinderella Man deserves a space on the shelf next to excellent dramatic sports films like The Natural, Hoosiers, and Seabiscuit."

Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) raves, "Cinderella Man is a rousing picture and a genuinely inspiring one, and represents some of Howard's best work. It's one Cinderella story that goes the distance without turning into a pumpkin, and fully earns its happily ever after."

Lisa Rice (Crosswalk) says it's "captivating on many levels," despite her count of 30 to 40 "obscenities and profanities throughout the movie." And she observes, "Despite the awesome prayers ...

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