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Greetings Gasmii! P-Baby here with some Chips Ahoy on one side and a football watching husband on the other. After doing a man’s work and cleaning out our new garage of all our trash and currently in between laundry cycles of washing every towel we own, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at The Fighter, the Christian Bale/Mark Wahlberg boxing/Jerry Springer-esque film that seems to be hitting (Heh. Hitting. Boxing movie. Oh please, no one is above a pun here and there.) the acting categories pretty hard this awards season. This is yet another film along with True Grit that I “agreed” to go see with Mr. P-Baby when the joke was once again on him because, as you all know, I LOVE me some Christian Bale served with a little Triple Nipple Wahlberg on the side.
So basically the deal with The Fighter is that it is a biographical film based on the the life of professional boxer Micky Ward, his crackhead strung out half-brother Dicky who also used to be a boxer, his Teen Mom of the 70′s mother who also moonlights as his manager and hasn’t met a blue light special she didn’t love, and his approximately 18 sisters that all share bad hair, bad attitudes, and bad teeth. (Disclaimer: As with Black Swan, I’ve only seen this movie once and don’t have unlimited access to it on DVD. Thus, this is more of a minicap with Awards season discussion. Onward!)
Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky Ward, a welterweight boxer who is obviously from Massachusetts because why else would Mark Wahlberg by playing him? He’s down on his luck for a couple of reasons:
1. Because his older half-brother and trainer Dicky (Christian Bale) is unreliable and his frosted hair manager Mom (Melissa Leo) keeps booking him for fights in which he is going to get lit up bad by his opponent. Speaking of getting lit, the reason Dicky is so unreliable is because his face is permanently glued to a crack pipe for the better part of the movie.
2. Instead of locking his degenerate family in the basement where they belong, Micky continues to let them make bad decisions for him and he has a pair so I don’t really feel all that bad for him.
In a side plot, we find out through Dicky’s incessant rambling that he used to be a pretty decent boxer back in the day, even defeating Sugar Ray Leonard once. Though it is heavily disputed that the defeat was due to Sugar Ray actually tripping, I wouldn’t argue this fact with Dicky because dude would cut a bitch for some drugs and pride. This boxing upset was of course before the poor man’s coke took over and disintegrated Dicky’s soul and his teeth. He never shuts the fuck about the fight either. I guess a man’s got to hold on to something when his life revolves around finding his next high and combing over his bald spot. To make things even more interesting, Dicky is being followed by a camera crew to which he believes is filming him for some sort of biographical feature when in reality it’s a documentary about drug addiction with my man Jeff Van Vonderen hiding behind the street light, foaming at the mouth to get Dicky’s ass into an Intervention meeting stat.
After some training and stuff (I told you, I can’t remember everything. My mind used to be a steel trap. Now it’s like a jello mold.) Micky decides to wash away his woes at the local watering hole which just happens to be bartended by a feisty redhead named Charlene (Amy Adams) who actually used to be a Disney princess and then a high strung nun for a spell after that. Charlene really needs to pick an occupation and stick with it. My vote? Shrill nag that obsessively cooks through a fatass cookbook while rocking a horrendous hairdo.) Charlene pretends like she doesn’t want to get all up on Micky’s stick but after wooing her with some fuck me eyes and biceps, Charlene scribbles down her number on a napkin after Micky demands to take her out to dinner.
Micky pulls out all the stops for his and Charlene’s date taking her to the most boring foreign film on the planet (speaking of boring foreign films, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo/The Girl Who Played With Fire are not such things. Swedes have all the fun. And speaking of Swedes, Alexander Skarsgard is officially on my Top 5 list of people I am permitted to leave Mr. P-Baby for.) He falls asleep during the movie and she generally thinks he’s kind of a douche but kind of sweet at the same time so they suck face and end up exclusive. There is some stuff in there about Micky getting completely walloped on at a fight in Atlantic City and not calling Charlene because his face was all busted up and her going to his place after he stands her up for a date, some name calling, etc but none of that really matters. The point is, she makes him a better person and they get it on like Donkey Kong.
Well this wouldn’t be a melodramatic family turmoil flick moonlighting as a sports movie if Mom and the Sisters didn’t take major issue with Charlene. See, Charlene wants Micky to take an opportunity to train away from his family and with people that have his best interests in mind. Those people would not include anyone related to Micky by blood.
Stuff happens, Dicky does some more drugs, Charlene trots around and cusses a whole bunch, and Micky generally stays under the radar except when he gets his hand broken during a scuffle with a cop, which naturally happened because Dicky is a succubus that refuses to leave Micky alone (Sorry, I kept dropping Reese’s Pieces on myself during the movie and this caused serious mid-movie distraction). Micky eventually rehabs his hand though and gets back into the boxing scene with help of the most awesome guy ever. Awesome because he is also named Mickey, doesn’t take a single particle of shit from anyone, and was the real Micky Ward’s mentor. He’s also a police officer so if there was ever a badass that didn’t wear a cape or hide nunchucks in his pants, it’s this guy.
So the conditions of Micky taking the good training opportunity, working with Policeman Mickey, and keeping that ho Charlene around is that he had to sever all ties with his toxic family. For some reason the word toxic made me think of the Mr. Yuk stickers that we got in elementary school and were supposed to take home to our parents so they could frantically sticker every bottle of poison in the house in order to prevent their children from guzzling paint thinner when their backs were turned. Maybe Micky would have understood the ultimatum better if his family was appropriately labeled.
The brotherly bond is a hard one to break. Micky just can’t quit Dicky and wants to have his big final fight with the help of his brother and his trainer and his girlfriend. Turns out Micky is the only protagonist in all of movie history that gets to have his grocery store sheet cake and eat it too. After looking pretty certain that his defeat is grim in his welter weight championship fight against Shea Neary (I have no idea if that is even the right name. It could have been Gary Busey for all I know. Blame Wikipedia if it’s not Shea. Mark Wahlberg was sweaty and prancing around in a boxing ring. Do you really think I was paying attention to who the other dude was?) Micky manages to defeat Shea by following Dicky’s fighting techniques. With the victory, he clinched the WBU Light Welterweight title and made us all a little teary on the outside and mushy on the inside. In honor of the movie ending, I feel a montage is in order:
Gasmii, this movie was a lot better than I made it sound. I blame refined sugar in the form of fake peanut butter trapped in colorful candy shells. This is by far Christian Bale’s movie over any of the other awesome cast members though Amy Adams tries real hard in her strumpet sheer bras and potty mouth. Bale’s performance is funny and heartbreaking all at the same time and he completely devotes himself to the character, which becomes evident when you catch glimpse of the real Dicky Eklund during the ending credits. Also, he made himself ugly with a grill to be envied by many a backwoods clan and a bald spot that I can only hope is fake. We all know ugly = Oscar for those of the female persuasion so hopefully the same can be said for Bale.
Melissa Leo is also fabulous as the Trashy Mom from Dollar Store hell and don’t discount the scene stealing sister clan either. Mark Wahlberg has a very understated performance here and while I still tend to think of him as David “It could’ve all been different Mr. Walkah” from Fear, he has progressed light years in his acting career. Who’d have ever thought he’d be known as Mark Wahlberg, Oscar nominee? I don’t think he’ll add a second nod to his name from this movie but kudos to him for letting his supporting cast shine.
Gasmii, I hope you all are enjoying this awards season coverage. Come back again in a few days for some more bad teeth, a little whiskey, and a helping of The Dude.