TCU Daily Skiff Friday, March 05, 2004
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New Meg Ryan film is fair

By Jessica Fleming

“Against The Ropes,” starring Meg Ryan and Omar Epps, is based on the true story of Jackie Kallen, the first — and most successful — female boxing manager in the history of the sport, and her first boxer under contract. The story is set in present day Cleveland, where Jackie works as an over-worked secretary under the incompetent male owner of a boxing venue.

This is a job she claims to keep only in order to be near boxing, the sport she has loved since childhood, having grown up the daughter of a boxing manager. She dreams of having a more rewarding career even closer to the ring and eventually defeats the sexism of the industry to become a manager. Even then, she still makes mistakes and has to overcome her own ego to be truly successful.

On the surface, it can be seen as a pro-feminism march toward actual equality in the workplace, or the dramatization of a woman who overcame such a sexist barrier; but even more so, the real message is about having the courage to chase your dream and the wisdom to keep yourself in focus at the same time. The protagonist spends much of the film having her abilities underestimated by the rest of her profession.

It is true to life that further complications are inevitable, and the film makes a good show of this. The characters have definable personalities and are easy to relate to, though they lack some depth. The acting, though not particularly challenging — even for mainstream cinema — works for the piece.

It’s not exactly movie of the year, but definitely a far cry from last place. It does what a movie is supposed to do first and foremost — it entertains. The cinematography of the boxing sequences, though leaving something to be desired from the regular boxing fan, provides a more realistic portrayal of fighting as it appears within the ring. The boxing itself only takes up a small amount of the total production time, and the combined training and fighting sequences might remind some viewers of the Rocky saga.

Being that this is also the story of a drug lord’s hitman who takes an opportunity to do well for himself by developing his fighting tactics into fame and fortune, the question of social structure comes up relatively little. Instead, the focus of the production is Jackie Kallen’s story of learning to play in the big-boy’s world and the consequences of letting it go to your head. Overall, it is still a good story, and a well-made feature, even if it lacks intellectual challenge.

Though the whole movie is fairly predictable, the plot generally moves fast enough to maintain interest. There are a few somewhat slow parts, but all in all the piece packs a solid punch. It is not really a thrill ride, nor is it an epic struggle. The movie could be seen as basic Hollywood fluff mass marketed to the constant theatergoing audience, or as a dramatization of one woman’s real struggle to make a name for herself in a male profession.

“Against the Ropes” does have a decent discernible message of remaining true to your surroundings despite achievements and pitfalls. So is the movie worth watching? Somewhat. This isn’t the type of movie that gives new meaning to life or structure to society.

The only really thought provoking thing about this movie is concern as to how Meg Ryan retains almost the same appearance she had in films 20 years ago and how little dignity goes into wearing modern fashion. The movie is watchable, and probably a good choice for those suffering from post-midterm brain fry or those just anxious for a night of entertainment.
Against the Ropes
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Meg Ryan, who portrays Jackie Kallen, watches as Omar Epps’s character, Luther Shaw, weighs in before a match.
 
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