Brad Wenzel Raves:
The boxing movie genre is known for relying a bit too heavily on montages. Southpaw brilliantly overcomes this criticism with a plot that is so incredibly sad, you will be left desperately begging for a montage. Pretty sneaky.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays our protagonist, Billy Hope… Billy Hope goes through some shit. An argument can be made that the character should have been named Billy “This Keeps Getting Worse,” but I get it, it’s wordy.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this montage. To put it in perspective, in Rocky IV, Rocky’s friend, Apollo Creed dies in the ring at the hands of Russian boxer, Ivan Drago. That’s pretty sad and that movie has like four montages. In Southpaw Billy Hope’s wife is innocently shot. Then, he loses his championship, fortune, and home. Then, his daughter is taken away by the state (extra heart-wrenching considering Billy and his dead wife both grew up as orphans in the system). Then, a young man named, Hoppy who Billy was helping mentor also gets shot… Total number of training montages: One. They make that puppy count. Swear to God, you will never be so relieved to watch someone jump rope to music.
Musician, Eminem provides his track “Phenomenal” for the montage. Eminem is a tremendous rapper, even better than Macklemore.
Rachel McAdams and Miguel Gomez both give effective performances in their individual roles. McAdams plays Billy’s wife, Maureen Hope. You realllly don’t want her to die. Gomez plays boxer, Miguel “Magic” Escobar. Miguel played a hand in the death of Billy’s wife and has the nerve to bring it up during their boxing match. You realllly want him to get punched. Good work, guys.
Billy Hope gets back on the right track at Wills Gym. You know it’s legit because they adhere to the strict boxing gym policy of, “No fresh paint ever. Only cracked peeling paint.”
Brad Wenzel Scathes:
“Southpaw” is a boxing term used to describe a left-handed boxer. If you attended this film expecting a boxing-based installment of the beloved Air Bud franchise, check yo face, there’s a bunch of egg on it.
*Personal Note: I have to assume it was the misleading canine-athlete title, that caused a father to bring his two very young daughters to the screening I attended in St. Charles, Illinois.
When Billy is down on his luck, he enlists the help of a new trainer, Tick Wills. Forest Whitaker does a great job with this role. My favorite part of this character is learning what Tick will and will not let slide. For example, Tick Wills has zero tolerance for swearing, but he also has a glass eye that’s the wrong color because it was too much of a hassle to send it back. Wills is a total wild card.
50 Cent plays Jordan Mains, a boxing promoter with shady intentions and questionable financial advice blah blah blah bankruptcy blah blah blah art does a good life impression.
Brad Wenzel Rates It: Five Stars?
*Originally published August 7, 2015
Brad Wenzel is a comedian. Follow him on twitter: @BradWenzel