Kurt Vonnegut’s theory that all stories effectively follow the same story, is true for every film you’ve ever seen, there are 8 categories that the film can fall into, Man in the Hole, Boy Meets Girl, From Bad To Worse, Which way is up, Creation Story, Old Testament, New testament, and finally the one i’ll be focusing on today the Cinderella Story, the Cinderella story is quite self explanatory, it copies the plot of Cinderella, so to start off the protagonist is at the bottom of the happiness scale, they slowly then begin to get happier, before a big event, which leads to something rather negative, which then brings us to what is usually the last 30-45 minutes of the film, the big finish, this shows the main character, working there way up from absolutely nothing, to ultimate elation. Below i’ll explain how this film fits the theory.
Also don’t be a d*ck, there is obviously going to be spoilers.
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
Stage 1 – Establishing the Characters
So the film starts off and we meet all of the big 3 characters in the first 15 minutes, Tommy Conlon and his father Paddy, are introduced first, Tommy has returned from being AWOL for a number of years, and has returned to see his father, Tommy resents his father, and his father is ex boxer, who is also a recovering alcoholic, although we don’t know anything about Tommy (he’s an enigma for the first 45 minutes) we do get the sense that he has no hope, we then go across to Brendan Conlon, big Brendan is living the American dream, hes a teacher at the local high school, with a large lavish house, a hot wife, with 2 beautiful kids, and gym in his garage. However all is not what it seems, as Brendan and his wife are struggling to stay afloat #DeadBroke, Brendan tells his wife he is bouncing at a local club on nights after teaching to get more money, but Brendan is actually going there to be paid for bare-knuckle boxing,
Stage 2 – The Come up
Now both brothers start going to the gym, in Tommy’s gym he knocks out Pete ‘Mad Dog’ Grimes, after Grimes’ manager offers any fighter $200 to get in the ring and spar with Mad Dog, the session is filmed by someone in the gym and uploaded to Youtube, He starts training with his father who improves him in a sort of BBC Sports style montage, next thing we know Tommy’s a household name with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, wanting him to compete in ‘Sparta’ ,Sparta is the upcoming MMA event which is (as they describe it) the fighting equivalent of The Superbowl, its a winner takes all sort of situation, where the winner gets 5 million dollars. So now a clip out of nowhere has surfaced showing Tommy rip off the door of a tank while on a tour in Afghanistan or something, so everyone is now like ‘ohhhhh sh*t this guys a hero’. Tommy goes to visit the old army friends wife, his friend died while on tour with Tommy, then we realise that Tommy is supporting this women, and as an audience we think Tommy (who by the way was horrible at the start) is now the dogs b*llocks.
Okay so now its Brendan’s go on the camera, he wins a very close fight in in the parking lot of a strip club in his bare-knuckle league, and his face resembles the elephant man…if he had hay-fever… in high pollen season. Brendan goes to work the next day, and his face is a mess, his students see and know about how he got it, leading him to be fired. Brendan doesn’t have a chance, Leading him to have to go to his old trainer FRANK CAMPANA – quick sidebar, watch this film, for him- Frank is a legend, a very eccentric man, who trains his fighters to classical music to improve their timing and rhythm . Another boxing montage later, and Brendan is at full strength, and in his prime. and then OUTTA NOWHERE Frank’s lead MMA fighter suffers an injury keeping him out of Sparta… 2 seconds later, big man Brendan is back in the game and is now Franks fighter for Sparta.
Stage 3 – Pre Finale so after the inevitable endless media and press conferences that usually come before a big fight, we then see the brothers get through their first 3 fights, leaving a final showdown for 5 million dollars, between the two brothers, as an audience, our allegiances are crossed, both brothers have very compelling stories, and we have to choose one, also this is a pivotal point, because we’re always unsure who the main character is until they eventually win, but before we even get a second to decide who we prefer, BAM, we find out Tommy’s real identity, a man who changed is second name from Conlon to Riorden because he ran away from the war in Iraq, he is set to be arrested after the fight, however you would think Americans would be shocked that he has ran away from the army right? Nope, they’re more amazed that the two fighting in the final are brothers, and now the fight is even more hyped.
Stage 4 – Lé Finale – Ultimate Elation.
As they walk in we see Tommy without his father in his corner, Brendan asks where he is but Tommy won’t say, (I wont ruin why he’s not there) as the fight kicks off, a visibly angry Tommy lays into his brother in the first round, absolutely pummeling Big Brendz face. As we enter the 2nd round, it is effectively much of the same, endless shots to Brendan’s face. Now in the 3rd round, Tommy starts off once again by battering Brendan, but Brendan manages to get his brother in a hold midway through, Tommy attempts to struggle free and then a loud CRACK, is heard, well Tommy’s only gone and snapped his tendon in his arm. Brendan sees this and calls to his trainer in the 3rd round break to stop the fight as he knows his brother is injured. Big Franky Campana though is having none of it, after all there is 5 million up for grabs, he tells Brendz to man up and finish off the fight. Its the 4th round, and as it starts we can see Tommy’s arm is f*cked, but he wishes to continue, and Brendan attempts many times to tell Tommy to quit and stop however its evident Tommy isn’t going to, therefore Brendan decides to just finish it off, he grabs Tommy and throws him to the floor, targeting the injured arm, while hes got Tommy in the hold, both main are visibily tired and emotional, tears roll down their faces, and yours. We then hear Brendan tell his brother he loves him before finishing off the submission and making Tommy tap, big Brendan has only gone and done it. The whole audience is effectively in tears as Brendan rushes to his brothers aid, and helps him leave the arena.
This film is really interesting to apply the Cinderella theory to, because its not your conventional story, as it has 2 heros that battle against each-other, and also lots of other features, but in terms of a timeline it follows almost exactly the same form