Ron Howard, an exemplar of honorable mediocrity, reunites with actor Russell Crowe and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman of A Beautiful Mind for this epic treatment of a seven-year stretch (1928-'35) in the career of New Jersey boxer James J. Braddock. The story culminates in Braddock's near miraculous knockout of Max Baer (Craig Bierko), which made Braddock world heavyweight champion, but despite the effective fight sequences, this is more a movie about what it means to have your electricity shut off, enhanced by detailed re-creations of working-class misery during the Depression. Paul Giamatti is a particular standout as Braddock's manager. Cliff Hollingsworth cowrote the screenplay; with Renee Zellweger, Paddy Considine, and Bruce McGill. PG-13, 144 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Crown Village 18, Ford City, Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen, Lake, Lawndale, Lincoln Village, Norridge, Pickwick, River East 21, 62nd & Western, Webster Place.

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