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"I'm the one fighting, okay? Not you, not you, and not you."—Micky Ward
An acclaimed 2010 film by director David O Russell, based on the life of Lowell boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, a major figure in international boxing from the late 1990s until his retirement in 2003.
As our story opens in 1993, Micky is a struggling boxer in a working class Lowell neighbourhood. He is perennially in the shadow of his older brother Dicky Eklund, whose claim to fame as a boxer was knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard in a single fight in the late 1970s (despite the fact that Sugar Ray got back up and won). Dicky has since fallen on hard times, becoming addicted to drugs and generally a screwup; he's being followed by an HBO documentary crew that is supposedly documenting his "comeback" (but is in fact using him to make an documentary on substance abuse). Micky, who is depending on his brother to be his trainer, is becoming increasingly annoyed with his brother and his manager-mother Alice. Micky also takes an interest in barkeep Charlene, who thinks Micky is being exploited and neglected by his family.
Starring Mark Wahlberg as Micky, Christian Bale as Dicky, Melissa Leo as Alice, and Amy Adams as Charlene. Was nominated for seven Academy Awards, with Bale and Leo winning for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
- Autobiographical Role: Micky Ward's trainer Mickey O'Keefe plays himself. So does Sugar Ray Leonard.
- Based on a True Story
- Big Screwed-Up Family: To the extent that they seem to cause Micky (and the audience) physical pain. The majority of the family is sisters, though. And they're not really a focus of the film.
- Break the Haughty: Dicky calls Charlene out on how she acts high and mighty around everyone just because she went to college, even though she never graduated and she's just as much in the gutter as they are.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Sugar Ray's reaction to being confronted by Dickie is basically "Dude, who are you?" He does eventually recognize Dickey, but his expression changes to "Dude, what happened to you?" and he beats a hasty retreat.
- But It Really Happened!: Bale seems to be overdoing it, and Wahlberg seems to be underplaying it. Then at the end we see footage of the real people they're playing and we find out their performances were in fact spot-on. In an interview, the director David O'Russell claims that he had to actually tone down Micky's sisters, as he was afraid people would think they were too over-the-top.
- Calling The Old Woman Out
- The Cameo: Sugar Ray Leonard.
- Cat Fight: Between Charlene and Micky's seven sisters; a fairly realistic version.
- Chekhov's Skill: Micky's One Two Punch. Lampshaded and Discussed following Micky's fight with Sanchez.
- Chewing the Scenery: Bale as twitchy attention-seeking Dickie.
- Double Standard: If Alice's husband George was throwing pots at her, it would probably not be played for laughs, nor would his character ever be capable of audience sympathy.
- Dyeing for Your Art:
- Drugs Are Bad
- Eighties Hair: My God, the sisters...
- Fake American: Christian Bale as Dicky.
- Fan Service: For the girls, shirtless and sweaty Micky; for the fellas, Amy Adams in Black Bra and Panties. A good time is had by all.
- The trope is actually discussed too. Micky takes Charlene out on a date to some critical darling European movie. She complains "It didn't even have any good sex in it."
- Glory Days: Dickie replays his knockdown (not "out", down) of Sugar Ray constantly. Other character suggest it was a slip, not a knockdown.
- Hollywood New England: Mark Wahlberg is once again one of the only authentic Bay Staters, but the other majors mostly manage credible accents.
- It's All About Me: Dickie manages to turn every conversation into one about him (and invariably, the Sugar Ray fight).
- Jerkass: EVERY female character except Charlene (well, his daughter wasn't bad either), and Dickie.
- Dickie occasionally leans toward Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This movie isn't about Micky, it's about his screwed-up brother!"
- Leave the Camera Running: The interview shown at the beginning and end of the movie were completely improvised by Bale, Wahlberg, and Russell.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Micky has seven sisters and a brother.
- Moment Killer: An intended "afternoon delight" between Micky and Charlene is snuffed by Alice and her daughters showing up en masse to tell Charlene off.
- My Beloved Smother: Seriously, Micky is a saint for putting up with his mother for as long as he did.
- Only Sane Man: Micky.
- Opposing Sports Team: Shea Neary is, in his very brief screentime prior to the fight, established as an unsportsmanlike Jerkass. He cements it by refusing to touch gloves with Micky, which is more than just a snub in boxing.
- Parental Favouritism: Alice focuses her attention on Dickie, which Micky resents.
- Playing Against Type: Amy Adams.
- Playing Gertrude:
- Redemption Quest: Of a sort; Micky is looking to validate his earlier potential. Dickie has a more obvious one, though it's not in the ring.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dickie and Micky.
- The Remake: Parts of the film are based on the HBO-produced documentary High on Crack Street, which partly chronicled Dickie's crack addiction. However, quite a bit was changed between the actual documentary and the film (for example, Dickie never talked about having a comeback, didn't have an Asian girlfriend and his body type was more muscular than thin).
- Stage Mom: Alice's business is managing her kids.
- Trash Landing: Dickie's frequent escapes from the crackhouse.
- Tropes Are Not Bad: Many of the sports film cliches are played very straight but They are done so well that They can be taken seriously.
- Troubled Production: Amazingly averted. This only bears mention due to Christian Bale's bad temper and David.O.Russell's infamous anger issues and attempts at violence.
- What Could Have Been: Darren Aronofsky was originally attached to direct.
- You Keep Using That Word: "Alright, MTV-girl..."