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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

From the Greasy Spoon Diner

Million Dollar Baby (2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

the word and prayerWe see aging LA boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood,) “the best cut man in the business,” patching up his injured boxer Big Willie Little (Mike Colter.) Next we see him in devotions (“Do your best, Lord, to protect Katie … Annie too.”) He reads Yeats, studies Gaelic, and engages his priest Father Horvak (Brían O'Byrne) in discussion about the Trinity—the immaculate conception will come later. Any Christian will probably know more about the Trinity than Frankie does, though perhaps not as much as the helpful priest. Only Catholics who practically deify Mary will find it necessary to be conversant with the immaculate conception doctrine (Mary's untainted birth.) The film is stacking up to be philo­sophical, about medical ethics that don't matter to everyone.

“Frankie likes to say that boxing is an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is back­wards: some­times the best way to deliver a punch is to step back... But step back too far and you ain't fighting at all.” Again, “Boxing is an unnatural act. Cos everything in it is back­wards. You wanna move to the left, you don't step left, you push on the right toe. To move right, you use your left toe. Instead of run­ning from the pain – like a sane person would do, you step into it.” The way Frankie's protégée 32-year-old waitress Maggie Fitz­gerald (Hilary Swank) tells it, “I was born two pounds, one-and-a-half ounces. Daddy used to tell me I'd fight my way into this world, and I'd fight my way out.” Some­how her exit is back­wards to what good Christians have been taught and what the priest recommends. The implications will impinge on some more than others.


The most salient connection between this film and the Bible looks to be, (Matt. 13:3) “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” From a sermon by J.B. Mozley, D.D.:

The parable of the sower is both a solemn lesson and warning, and also a description of what is actually taking place in the world. It tells how the human heart actually treats the seed that is put into it—the word of God,—the impulse that it receives from God to lead a good and holy life. All these receptions and all these rejections of the word are actually going on amongst us. … There are ordinary religious influences at work. Everybody does, at some time or other, experience … a decided feeling and sense of the momentous importance of religion, as does amount to a call. … A truth is distinctly embraced by the mind of the person at the time: he sees that some­thing is true, which he had not realized to be true before but had only held in word. (141–2)

(Matt. 13:4) “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.” The biblical application is, (Matt. 13:18-19) “Hear ye there­fore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and under­standeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” Mozley elucidates:

The parable tells us first that there is a certain class in whose case (Luke 8:12) “the devil cometh and taketh away the word out of their hearts.” … It is that bold, proud, some­times even sudden and impulsive act of sin, by which in a moment people cast out of their hearts some­thing that incom­modes and annoys them, and threatens to inter­fere with the favourite pleasure or object that they have placed before them;—their plan of happiness in life. (142–3)

To apply it to boxing, when Maggie's mother got a whiff of Maggie's new activity, she advised her to, “find a man, marry him, live proper.” She didn't hold any truck with girls in that sport. Some people don't find Christianity appealing either.

(Matt. 13:5-6) “Some [seed] fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forth­with they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” Its biblical application is, (Matt. 13:20-21) “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in him­self, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Mozley again explains:

The second class mentioned in the parable [are] those who from levity and care­less­ness of mind give up, and allow to escape from them, the word that they at first received with gladness. These are described as not having any root in them­selves. … When they had received the word, they had no energy of their own to take hold of it and extract its powers; and accordingly it is said that they soon fell away. (145–6)

Acolyte Danger Barch (Jay Baruchel) got so excited about boxing that he would punch the air and repeatedly yell, “I challenge the ‘Motor City Cobra’, Thomas ‘Hit Man’ Hearns to fight me for the Welter­weight Champion­ship of the whole world!” He's like the congregant who excitedly waves his arm in the air at every altar call but who never trains in disciple­ship and after a bloody experience the first time he's tested in the ring slinks away.

(Matt. 13:7) “And some [seed] fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.” It's explained thus: (Matt. 13:22) “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceit­ful­ness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” From Mozley's sermon:

Those who are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life … are guilty of worldli­ness; of allowing them­selves to be absorbed in the business, and plans, and pursuits of this present life. … And so the stream carries them along, being interested in the objects of the world … until that which has thriven by practice has completely driven out the principle that has had no exercise, and the result is a simple man of the world. (147–9)

Frankie trained Willie to the verge of the championships, and then Willie left him for another manager who had better connections. He figured on taking best advantage of his limited window of professional boxing.

plowing(Matt. 13:8-9) “But other [seed] fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred­fold, some sixty­fold, some thirty­fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” It's applied as, (Matt. 13:23) “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and under­standeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred­fold, some sixty, some thirty.” Mozley gives us the fourth example of “the honest and good heart:”

The honest and good heart does not sin against light; it does not change and abandon what it has under­taken; and it is not ensnared by the deceit­ful­ness of riches, and captivated by the pomp and show of this world. It knows the excellence of religion, and what good things God has in store for them who love him; and it is able to count the cost, and to make the sacrifice that is necessary for the great end in view. (149)

Gym care­taker retired fighter Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Free­man) speculates that every fighter has just so many fights given him. Frankie trained fighters into his old age until it was time for him to fade way. Scrap had 109 fights before an injury forced his retire­ment. Same with Maggie but with an even shorter career.

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Clint Eastwood. It was written by Paul Haggis (screenplay) and F.X. Toole (stories.) It stars Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, and Jay Baruchel. Eastwood, Swank and Freeman were excellent. Swank was believable in her role as the high­light girl boxer, but she didn't make an empathetic character. She and her final opponent were both vicious enough to darken all the gentle sex.

The film is rated PG–13. Its production is pretty straight­forward, nothing fancy.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I wasn't particularly thrilled by this movie, but then I'm not a particular fan of boxing either. But it takes all kinds, even girl boxers. With Clint Eastwood directing, the story was well told but it might not be every­body's cup of tea.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Mozley D.D., J.B. Sermons Parochial and Occasional. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1880. Print.