Ok if I were going to ask you to name your favorite inspirational sport movie, what would it be? Wait, before you answer, if I also said it cannot be “Rudy”, how many just had to think of a second choice? Most people love things that inspire them, that is why we have that great poster with the kitten telling us to hang in there. We all know life can be hard, and while we get plenty of lemons, sometimes it is hard to make lemonade. I love a movie that makes me feel good about humanity and myself in general. For me nothing does that better then a movie where someone goes against all odds and wins something.
The greatest thing about these stories is that you almost forget or never hear about them when they were actually happening. The story of Vinny Pazienza is one of those stories for me. If you were like me let me fill you in on this incredible story. Vinny (Miles Teller) was a boxer who was doing ok, but with his last three fights winning had become a thing of the past. Having reached a spot where some around him were suggesting retirement, Vinny wants to fight, and enlists trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) to help him get back to the top. Kevin tells Vinny he should move up a few weight classes, something Vinny decides to do. After training, Vinny gets a fight and becomes a world champion. While out celebrating Vinny is involved in an accident, and fractures his neck. He is told not only, will he never box again, he might never walk either. Vinny is a fighter, and all he wants to do is get back in the ring. What Vinny attempts to defy the odds and once again become a champion.
Telling a story like this of Pazienza, can be a difficult one. Pazienza had a larger the life personality, one that is hard to sum up in a two-hour movie. What writer/director Ben Younger decided to do was to focus on the before and after the accident. What that does is make the story sharper and more focused. While the story is trying to capture lighting in a bottle, the actors help make it so. Teller and Eckhart are both fantastic, and Teller continues to show he is a go to actor for almost any role (except for that superhero movie). Younger doesn’t just bring the “A” game to the script; he also brings it in his direction. With a great soundtrack, and clever ways to make the six million dollar budget stretch. Boxing movies can be a dime a dozen, with many of them trying to reinvent the wheel. “Bleed for This” takes it back to the basics, and benefits from that. This is an extraordinary story that leaves you wanting to know more. Younger has not only delivered a good boxing movie, he has made a straight-up good film, period.