Hitting below the belt

I am now officialy a big fan of John Dryden. I've never see any of his plays, or read any of his other work, but he is the first listed user of the word "mawkish" in the OED. For this I have to thank him, because otherwise I'd be trying to figure out what word I should use to describe Million Dollar Baby. Actually, it's not the whole film that is mawkish, just the vast majority. A small portion of it is a very interesting musing on the selfishness of love. And the parts hi-liting the friendship between Morgan Freeman's Scrap and Clint Eastwood's Frankie are quite compelling, though they pale before the amazing example of friendship between two older men that John Spencer and Martin Sheen have compiled with their work on the West Wing. Actually, I thought all of the acting in the film was quite good. But the majority of the story is, on a basic level, a combination of the scrappy underdog makes good and the gruff (was the word gruff invented to describe Clint Eastwood?) loner with a heart of gold has his cold exterior broken through and finds a measure of happiness tropes. These are quite overdone and were hysterically parodied in Bad Santa. Bad Santa should be required viewing before making a film like this one, it would have provided a valuable lesson. Also, the voice over narration only detracts from the film, indicating a basic distrust of the audience's ability to understand fairly clear situations. The dialouge is a mixed bag with good lines ("We'll fly there, drive back) mixed with bad ("Every fighter has a certain number of fights in him, but no one ever tells him what the number is"). On a less serious note, I find it quite implausible that Hillary Duff's Maggie doesn't accidentally find out what her nickname means by reading her own publicity. At one point there is a specific mention of articles being written about her, and I find it hard to believe that these articles would just mention her nickname without explaining it. Oh, and I liked Eastwood much better as Frank Horrigan in In the Line of Fire.