A million reasons not to see a movie


(Million Dollar Baby)



Intellectual Fraud

Intelligent Design

Mega Fix

Movie Reviews

Ron Brown

Popes & Bankers

TWA Flight 800






As a Catholic of Irish descent, a Missouri resident, a boxing fan and a father of two daughters, allow me to register a quintuple protest at Clint Eastwood’s much gushed about boxing opus, the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby.

Celebrated for its authenticity, Baby rings false from the opening bell in every imaginable way. Like Mystic River , Eastwood’s last movie, Baby begins with a fully gratuitous bit of Catholic-bashing, now a fully accepted, even expected, bit of bigotry in Hollywood movies.

Flummoxed by the faith-challenging questions of Eastwood’s flinty character, Frankie Dunn, Frankie's priest responds with the “F” word. Sorry, Clint, this doesn’t happen in the real world. The critics liked it, though. One commented favorably on “the sharp anti-clerical uppercut.”

Mid-America fares, if possible, even worse. When Frankie and his female protégée, Maggie Fitzgerald(Hillary Swank), visit Maggie’s family in southwest Missouri , the audience meets the most crudely stereotyped “hillbilly” family since the Clampetts.

But the Clampetts, at least, were likeable. These hillbillies are grotesque, repulsive and false to the core. Nothing about them rings true, certainly not the palm trees in their Ozark trailer park—a typical bit of Eastwood sloppiness. Just as bad is the film’s Texan character, who casually uses the “N” word around his black gym mates. That doesn’t happen in the real world either.

As to the Irish part, Frankie dresses Maggie in green and puts some bogus Gaelic saying on her robe. This makes Irish-Americans across the nation swoon. They abandon all reservations about female boxing and show up en masse at her matches dressed like the cast of The Quiet Man.

The “female” part is the perhaps most troubling. In reading the reviews--about a dozen major ones--I saw none that even commented on the cultural implications of having a dozen or so young women get beaten to a bloody pulp on screen. Had the movie been about chickens beating each other this badly, Hollywood would have been up in arms.

The reviews also avoid any discussion of the ending.

Those who wish to see the film might want to stop here as any real discussion of the film demands its inclusion.

In her final match, Maggie boxes a woman from “East Berlin ,” who happens to be black. (I guess Milli Vanilli aren’t the only black Germans). An absurdly dirty fighter, this woman makes Mike Tyson look like the Marquis of Queensbury. For instance, she routinely punches her opponents when they are sprawled on the campus—and gets away with it.

Losing to Maggie, the German punches her in the back of the head after the bell has sounded. Maggie falls unconscious and snaps her spine on the stool, leaving her a quadriplegic. If you’re thinking that this is a statement on the perils of female boxing, you would be wrong. Instead, Eastwood uses it as an opportunity to bash the Church for its presumably close-minded attitude towards euthanasia. Maggie wants out, and Frankie obliges her, despite the admonitions of his priest.

Having murdered the fully conscious Maggie—aged 33 for no other reason than to be the same age as Jesus at his death—Frankie Dunn just wanders away. His lifelong employee, played by Morgan Freeman, chimes in with some more of the pointless amoral narration that has plagued the movie from the beginning and has been swiped nearly trope for trope from the Shawshank Redemption.


Roger Ebert called the film a “masterpiece.”



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