Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

'Million Dollar Baby' is a knockout

Published February 7, 2005

[Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Hilary Swank stars as Maggie Fitzgerald, who pursues her dream of boxing glory under the tutelage of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) in Million Dollar Baby.

MOVIE: Million Dollar Baby


SUMMARY: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) has been training and managing world-class professional boxers for years, but he has never brought home a world champion title. Frankie's top fighter deserts him for a new manager just before a title fight. Frankie is left with no hope of garnering a title until 31-year-old Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) shows up in his gym. He initially refuses to train her, claiming he doesn't train women. We soon find out there's much more to it than that; he has unresolved issues with his estranged daughter. But he is eventually affected by Maggie's determination and gives in. Maggie's road from a poor and homely waitress to a boxing superstar is not only a road to a title, but a journey of self-discovery, and a deep friendship develops between two affection-starved souls.

MY VIEW: It is not the least bit surprising that this film scooped up the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama (Swank) and best director (Eastwood). It is quite simply a remarkable film. Its emotional depth is purely striking. The story line effectively creates a roller coaster of emotion. It easily could have been a tug-at-your-heartstrings movie. Swank's performance is nothing short of brilliant; she obviously put in an astounding effort toward becoming Maggie Fitzgerald. Morgan Freeman's role as the discerning narrator of the story is tastefully understated, as is his role as a former boxing champ and Frankie's moral supporter. The audience was absorbed for the film's 2 hours 17 minutes, and there was not a dry eye in the theater at the end. Watch out, Oscar, we have a heavyweight on our hands.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This is not a typical boxing movie. Don't be fooled by the trailers; this one absolutely transcends boxing to become a flawless piece of Hollywood filmmaking! Don't miss it. Be forewarned, though, that there are numerous graphic and disturbing images.


Billy Norris, 17, is in 11th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the X-Team.

[Last modified February 4, 2005, 13:26:05]

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