Cardboard Boxer full movie review - This Movie Will Bum You Out
Not because it's about homeless people, or because it's sad or poignant -- because it's just not very good.
I can't fault the filming. It has most of the street atmosphere down. And, the lead actor is was very believable as a homeless person, Willy, at the beginning of the movie, but then it went downhill. The dude who played the homeless vet was good as well.
Where the film fell massively short was in the plot. It just wasn't consistent, and was disconnected -- like they tried to do a smashup of two different movies... one gritty, and one sugary-sweet like a Hallmark holiday movie. The only thing that could have made it worse would be if it had been set during Christmas.
No clue whatsoever what the writer thought the storyline about the little burn victim and her diary was going to add to the plot. It was just plain bad. Homeless dude finds a partially-burned book that turns out to be a young girl's diary. Which isn't written like a kid would write, at all. It's written like an adult used it to narrate the story, for lack of better ideas. Switching between the young girl reading it out loud (which sounded like a kid trying to read grown-up's words) and having the vet read other parts to Willy was annoying. It's not a diary, it's a monologue. Diary fail.
Why didn't Willy know how to read cursive? Why did he sometimes appear to be quite smart and perceptive, and then other times pulled a full-on Rainman? Is he supposed to be mentally ill or not? What's his backstory?
About the 'fight' scenes. Dropped the ball on that. It could have been a very sick and twisted setup that made commentary on how disposable homeless people are, but it was trying too hard to be a feel-good Lifetime Movie thing. It could really have been about entitled rich brats exploiting people who've fallen through the cracks, but it couldn't do that effectively because it was so busy trying to build a "heartwarming story" about some little burn victim and a homeless dude. A dude who, unlike most street-dwellers, doesn't drink or do drugs, and who, when offered a $5 blowjob, instead just asks the prostitute to "love him"? The prostitute was a completely forgettable Macy Gray, by the way.
The ending, where Willy magically manages to severely burn both of his hands from trying to retrieve the diary from the burning trash can the evil, spoiled rich kid threw it into, was just irritating. He somehow ends up in the same burn ward as a little kid? An adult man in with child burn victims? And then the end, where he sees her, she runs over and they hug, made me go into diabetic shock.
Oh, we get it -- they were both unwanted, but now they've found each other!
Such a shame. This could have been a good movie with a good actor, if the writers weren't determined to ruin it with crap about some kid's diary.