Be careful appraising ‘Baby’
For all those who already have anointed “Million Dollar Baby” the movie of the year, I feel it’s necessary to point out one fact:It’s February – and not by much.So, while “Million Dollar Baby” is a very good movie, maybe we should wait until this year’s Oscars are over before we go naming the best movies of 2005.I realize I’m shortchanging “Million Dollar Baby” by about half a star – on purpose, which I guess is my typical reaction to well-made late-January weepfests that sneak into Academy Award consideration just before the Oscars’ deadlines.That’s not to say the flaws in “Million Dollar Baby” outweigh its virtues – the opposite is true. As a – surprise! – tough-as-nails cut man, director-actor Clint Eastwood rediscovers the easy camaraderie he shared with Morgan Freeman in the much better “Unforgiven” and plays the grizzled mentor to Hilary Swank’s white-trash brawler.The boxing movie at the roots of “Million Dollar Baby” evokes some of Eastwood’s best stuff. The only problem is it’s stuffed with enough baggage to sink “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” or “Terms of Endearment” – stuff that used to be a surprise before it, in turn, became cliche: Of course the gravel-guts trainer is secretly a renaissance man; somehow; of course nearly everyone in the cast has a heart of gold and one more fight left in him. Or her.Maybe “Million Dollar Baby” – and the depressing turn you’ve probably heard hints of – would’ve hit me harder had it stuck to the boxing. But the sentimental chick-movie undercurrent is never far below the body shots and broken noses – and I probably don’t have to tell you which I found more difficult to endure.”Million Dollar Baby” might look like it has the body of a bare-knuckle brawler, but it’s really pretty soft and better measured in damp hankies than first-round knockouts. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination – it’s just all a little much.”Million Dollar Baby” might look like it has the body of a bare-knuckle brawler, but it’s really pretty soft and better measured in damp hankies than first-round knockouts. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination – it’s just all a little much.
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