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Against the Ropes

Released: 2004

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 51 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Charles S. Dutton

Starring: Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Charles S. Dutton, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Daly, Joseph Cortese, Kerry Washington, Sean Bell, Dean McDermott

A film is about American boxing manager Jackie Kallen, who was the first woman to become a success in the sport. As with other such movies, its climax is a bout for the championship.

Only the fights appear genuine.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

AGAINST THE ROPES stars a horribly miscast Meg Ryan as Jackie Kallen, a woman trying to break into the Boys' Club world of professional boxing managers. Rosie Perez might have had the right spunky swagger for the movie's silly and sappy script, inspired by the real Jackie Kallen, but Ryan fails just as miserably as she did in IN THE CUT, another of her awkward attempts to broaden her acting horizons.

"The world's an oyster, and you're a pearl," Jackie is told when she is a little girl hanging around the boxing ring, admiring the fighters. "Pearls are pretty, and they're tough."

Cut to the present, when a now grown Jackie works as a secretary in a boxing coliseum. Cynically she says, "The world is not an oyster. It is a tank filled with dirty water and sharks where you can't swim." Dressing like a street hooker and talking with a heavy and unidentifiable (Brooklyn?) accent, she isn't taken seriously. Larocca (Tony Shalhoub), a boxing manager and a made man in the Mafia, ridicules her occasional outbursts of bravado, calling her just a "Barbie doll with glass balls."

Through a strange set of circumstances, Jackie finds herself suddenly the manager of Luther Shaw (Omar Epps), a street punk who has the skills, which only she can see, that could make him into a real champion. In no time, he starts winning fights -- the film's director, Charles Dutton, plays his trainer -- while she becomes the star of the show. The press are in awe of a woman making it in a man's world. Her fighter is relegated into an increasingly unimportant role in his own career. Think he might to come to resent her grandstanding?

Sometime during the first act, Jackie completely loses her accent. (Look for Ryan to win this year's award for the most inconsistent and unbelievable accent.) Jackie's sleazy wardrobe goes in the second act. And then there is the third act, which is off-the-wall ridiculous. Rarely is the film funny, and even more rarely still is it credible. Only the fights appear genuine.

Let's talk about the film's inappropriate rating for a moment. I know all of the studios want their pictures to come in at PG-13 because it significantly improves their box office potential, but why does the MPAA have to go along by giving obvious R movies like AGAINST THE ROPES a PG-13 rating? There is constant foul language, albeit no use of the F-word, oral sex jokes, crack cocaine and violence -- and I'm not just talking about in the ring.

Please do us a favor Meg. Stick to romantic comedies. You're always great in them. Stop trying to prove your acting range. You are already a champion in one arena. Don't get knocked out again by trying to succeed at something else. After IN THE CUT and AGAINST THE ROPES, you'll be out for the count if you're not careful. You're too good to let this happen to you.

AGAINST THE ROPES runs 1:51. The film is rated PG-13 for "crude language, violence, brief sensuality and some drug material" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.