Against the Ropes
This errant wide left hook in Hollywood’s motley stable of boxing-related films lacks the genuine smell of the gym, an antagonist you love to hate (the heavy here played by Tony Shalhoub is more jerk than villain), and a protagonist whose emotional and physical ups and downs alternately darken and euphorically burst your heart. It also has no peripheral characters to add convincing color and depth and grit to a story “inspired” by the life of Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan wrapping her cosmetically enhanced Gummi Worm lips around an East Coast accent), the first and most successful female manager in the world of boxing. The film leaps from a lame start in Kallen’s childhood to present-day Cleveland, where Kallen works as an executive assistant at a boxing arena. She winds up managing her first fighter and soon becomes her own worst enemy in a series of peek-a-boo outfits Erin Brockovich would die for.