Cinderella Man Ron Howard

One of the biggest examples of 2005's hyped year as a box-office failure, Ron Howard's critically successful yet financially handicapped film is giving it one last shot on DVD. Released just three months after Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby conquered all things Oscar, another '70s-icon-turned-award-winning-director took on one of Hollywood's most exhausted topics: boxing. Ron Howard re-teams with his A Beautiful Mind crew (writer Akiva Goldsman, actor Russell Crowe and producer Brian Grazer) to bring the true story of Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock to the screen. Howard, an overrated director whose best films are often examples of conventions at their finest, has crafted his best film. Though Cinderella Man goes out of its way to feel clichéd (with the long-suffering wife, the underdeveloped boxing manager and the "underdog eventually triumphing" plotline at its core), its wonderful performances and exceptional stylistic qualities allow for its flaws to be all but ignored. While Renee Zelwegger is underwhelming as his wife, Crowe plays Braddock with remarkable style and grace. His accent is pitch-perfect and he allows the audience to become emotionally involved in his story. The DVD set is packed with extras that scream, "this is a great film," perhaps in attempt to woo sceptical Academy Award voters. Yet this overdoing also provides a wide array of choices and some of them are exceptional. Four documentaries ("Casting Cinderella Man," "The Man, The Movie, The Legend," "Jim Braddock" and "A History in Boxing") give exhaustive background, and the commentaries by Howard and Goldsman are also enthusiastic. While Cinderella Man might go down in cinematic history as the hit that never was, it still packs a decent punch. (Universal)