Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Starring Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank & Morgan Freeman

Rating 9/10

Million Dollar Baby begins like any other boxing film. The audience gets sucked in and they settle back ready to see some good old-fashioned fake fighting. Suckers! They think that it’s just another run-of-the-mill fighting flick, except that this time, there’s a girl in the ring! Ah-ha! By the end of this movie, the audience finds themselves in unfamiliar territory. Not only is there a girl playing a boxer, but they’ve been drawn into a film about about belonging, about finding one’s place in the world and following dreams with all you have.

It sounds a little naff, I know, but this film offers so much more! Incredible director/ producer/ actor Clint Eastwood has a way with film. It is as if it runs through his blood and out his pores; everything he touches turns to gold.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) is a struggling waitress with dreams of boxing the lights out of other ladies. So, she joins a gym with the best boxing trainer in the world, Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) who initially refuses to train her because he “doesn’t train girls”! Mags shakes off her disappointment, pays her membership fee and keeps training at Dunn’s gym.

Ex-boxer and current janitor Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Freeman) breaks the rules and gives her a few tips and a speed bag and in no time Maggie starts improving. Meanwhile Frankie loses his star boxer to another manager and reluctantly decides to take Maggie on. Then the girl gets GOOD!

She hits her peak when she fights in London and Frankie rewards her with her own special boxing dressing gown and a new Gaelic name, ‘Mo cuishle’. Almost as soon as she lands in the the US of A, she takes Frankie on a road trip to visit her poverty-stricken family back home. Out of the goodness of her heart she buys her Ma a home and her mum pretty much throws it back in her face. C-O-W!

Back in the gym, Frankie tells Maggie that he’s finally arranged a world title fight with the scary German boxer Billie “The Blue Bear”. This girl plays dirty and the before Maggie knows it, the fight gets serious. It ends with Mags getting hit from behind on her way back to her corner. She falls and hits her lovely head on the edge of her stool and instantly becomes a quadriplegic.

In the hospital, Frankie stays by her side and cares for her like a father. He contacts her pathetic family who eventually travels to town but decides to spend the first few days at Disneyland, as you do. Reluctantly they rock in, dressed in their best Disney-themed clothing and ask Maggie to give them power of attorney. Thankfully she refuses and sends them packing.

Then it ends. And how it ends, I won’t say but it is incredibly moving for Frankie, Dupris and of course our beautiful gal, Maggie.

This is an emotional film. It’s not the easiest thing to watch two girls beating each other up! It’s pretty graphic with all the blood, the puffy eyes and broken noses being forced back into place but if you can cover your eyes and just bear it, this film is worth it! It’s lovely watching the relationship between tough Frankie and sweet Maggie bloom into a deep friendship. And that’s pretty much what it’s all about… belonging!

Million Dollar Baby Trivia:

  • Budget – $30 million
  • This film is based on three short stories by Jerry Boyd: “The Monkey Look,” “Million $$$ Baby” and “Frozen Water.”
  • Swank put on nearly 10 kilograms of muscle for this film.
  • The boxer who played Billie the bear was actually Swank’s boxing coach.
  • Sandra Bullock was signed to play Maggie but it fell through.
  • Mo cuishle means my darling.
  • Filming was completed in only 37 days… 2 days early!
  • Swank contracted a serious infection in her foot and almost had to be hospitalised. But she didn’t tell the producers about her injury, instead took off a week and rested the darn thing cos she thought that’s what her character would do! Talk about tough!
  • Apparently the film only cost $18 million but it was increased to $30 million for publicity purposes.
  • This film was nominated for all major Oscars.

We are hurtling through the noughties! Next week I’m watching one of my favourite movies, Crash starring: Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton!


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