Keller @ Large: Why ‘The Fighter’ Did So Well

BOSTON (CBS) – I have a confession to make. I did not stay up to see the end of the Oscar show last night.

So I suppose there’s a chance that the scripted dialogue got better, and some of the windbag winners started celebrating the fine art of brevity. But I doubt it. I say, bring back Billy Crystal, Letterman, anybody who can tell a joke to break up the tedium.

Read: Complete Oscars Coverage From CBS Los Angeles

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But I did see enough before James Franco put me to sleep to appreciate that “The Fighter,” the terrific movie about Lowell boxer Mickey Ward, was having a big night, and no wonder. By contrast with a lot of the product they put out, “The Fighter” is Hollywood at its best, telling a real story about the real lives of real people.

And it was really gratifying to see local boy Mark Wahlberg and his co-producers do right by the working-class people of Lowell in “The Fighter.”

How many times have you sat in the theater wincing a little as movie after movie focuses on the worst dysfunctional behavior we here in Massachusetts have to offer, and neglects to tell the story of what makes us great?

The key figures in “The Fighter” all have their issues. But their love for one another – the romantic love between Ward and his girlfriend and the complicated family love that ties him to his drug-addicted brother and domineering mother – is what redeems them. It sustains them in moments of defeat. It’s stronger than money, fame, drugs, or anger.

Ward’s mother and brother aren’t exactly portrayed as heroes in “The Fighter,” mostly the opposite. They’re self-centered, needy and destructive. But Melissa Leo as the mother and Christian Bale as the brother let their humanity and – above all else – their love for their family show through. I don’t know if this is what the writers intended, but I came away from “The Fighter” thinking that it was family the characters were fighting for.

Maybe sometimes we do play down to the stereotypes Hollywood applies to us.

But in “The Fighter,” Hollywood, for once, puts a spotlight on a part of life here we can be proud of.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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  • notjustNE

    I have heard that “The Fighter” was an excellent movie, although I have not seen it yet. But what I’m wondering is why Keller thinks that the behavior of the family, and their support of each other, would be different in any other part of America? Wouldn’t stereotypical New Jersey characters be able to portray similar characteristics? All NJ residents do not emulate the “Sopranos” do they?! One of the real problems with Boston media is its constant feelings of inferiority and insecurity about themselves. Seems like the media here is often acting more like Sally Fields, i.e., “they liked me, they really liked me!!”

  • David M. Rosen

    John, you are exactly right about The Fighter. It is an authentic, engaging and uncommonly well-acted movie. And in the end, despite the drug use, selfish and dysfunctional behavior of the brother, the mother and the father, in the end their humanity and family ties win the day. I’m sure that’s what the writers, actors and director intended. The Fighter is a better film that The King’s Speech, which is a very good film but not a great one, and should have won the Best Picture award.

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