Critic Says Eastwood Film Spoiled by Pro-Death Message

A popular talk radio host says Clint Eastwood's new movie, Million Dollar Baby (Warner Bros., 2004), has a disconcerting theme, and all of the Oscar buzz the movie is generating is overshadowed by the movie's disturbing ideology.

Nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Michael Medved, a best-selling author and veteran film critic, uses his daily three-hour program to explore the intersection of politics and pop culture. The show reaches more than two million listeners in 140 markets across the US, coast to coast.

In recent weeks, Medved has been a vocal opponent of Million Dollar Baby, the recently released film starring veteran actor and Academy Award-winning director Eastwood with Academy Award-winning actor Hilary Swank. The film involves a jaded ex-fighter-turned-boxing trainer who attempts to help a stubborn young woman &#0151 a survivor of much pain and disappointment &#0151 succeed as a boxer.

But Medved feels the widely acclaimed new film has been marketed under false pretenses. “The whole sell on this movie is that it's like a female Rocky — it's a tough little fighter who comes back and defies the odds,” he says, “and her friendship with Clint Eastwood is [supposedly] all so inspiring, and it's all so wonderful — that's not what the movie is.”

Far from it, the well-known film critic asserts: for, instead of Rocky's theme of the triumph of the spirit over tremendous odds, Medved says of Million Dollar Baby, “When you come out of the theater after you've just seen one of the characters say that another one of the characters is heroic — 'heroic' is the word that's used — because that character is involved with assisted suicide, that's the thing that you take home with you.”

Underlying the Eastwood film's plot is a message that Medved insists should neither be promoted nor given audience support. “It is a right-to-die movie,” he says, noting a key plot twist that has a central character horribly handicapped and pleading for assisted suicide. Without pausing to issue a spoiler warning, the reviewer comes right out in unequivocal condemnation of the film's pro-death climax, in which the boxing trainer Frankie (Eastwood) is portrayed as heroic for helping Maggie (Swank) commit suicide after she is paralyzed during a fight.

Medved says people who are looking for a female variation on the Rocky theme will be extremely disappointed and most likely disturbed by the message embodied in Million Dollar Baby. He judges the PG-13-rated film “insufferably manipulative” in its ideology and “totally unsuitable for kids,” as well as shamelessly overrated and misleadingly marketed.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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