Real Steel

By Mark Ramsey | 2011/10/12

We begin with Hugh Jackman dressed as a cowboy – the kind of cowboy with a sleeveless denim shirt and tie.  I don’t know what kind of steer this cowboy is rustling up, but back home on this range there’s a pair of leather chaps just waiting to frame a bare ass.

It’s the future, where robots can do anything!  So what do you think we should have them do?

Should they cure cancer?  Visit distant planets?  Write the new season of Two and a Half Men? Wave palm branches over our heads as they feed us grapes?  Host the Oscars?

No, let’s have them bash their heads in for our amusement!

And if we really want to be amused maybe they could bash in Kathie Lee and Hoda’s heads while they’re at it.

Hugh used to be a boxer, you see.  “I was the only boxer who knew every song to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel and had my own Tommy Tune tribute band,” said Jackman, whose career has taken him from Wolverine to glucosamine.

Hugh has a newfound motherless son.  But look out, it’s Hope Davis as the boy’s crusty aunt.  Hope is the signpost to most of the boring movies of the past ten years.  If boredom were a good night’s sleep, Hope would be its chamomile tea.  Fortunately, she has a lot less screen time than the animated robots which give Real Steel its punch, such as it is.

It’s tough being upstaged by an 11-year-old.  Just ask Jackman, who made sure every day he hadn’t shaved in four days.

Hugh’s girlfriend is the lovely Evangeline Lilly, the latest in a line of ever-younger love interests as Hugh drifts ever-older.

Evangeline owns the gritty urban gym where absolutely nobody seems to be training but everybody is walking around with a cup of coffee talking about their feelings.  Is this gym built to exercise or to exorcise some demons?  Either way, boxing gym owners have come a long way since Burgess Meredith growled at Rocky.  “It was either run a boxing gym or be featured as the face of Dolce & Gabbana, and who wouldn’t pick the gym?” asked Lilly, who willed away my drop of sweat with the brutal force of her sexiest porcelain glare.

“At this gym,” said Evangeline, “the motto is ‘no punching below the belt and no Botox below the brow.’”

As boxing movies go, Real Steel is almost like Raging Bull.  Except there’s a real bull in the movie and he’s a much better actor than Hugh’s kid.

I have always wished for a movie that featured the line “Noisy Boy fought Rubicon in the WRB fight in 2016,” and finally my wish has been granted!

So against all odds, Hugh and his chip-off-the-old-Jackman coach a training bot the championship, marking the first time a major bout featured a robot fighter skilled both in a right uppercut and in Bob Fosse Jazz hands.

Wait for it, wait for it….There it is!  The inevitable scene where the kid teaches the robot to dance, just like the professional dancer did on that TV show for that robot named Chaz Bono.

So Hugh’s character arcs from bad dad to good dad.  Does it count as an arc if I can see it coming the minute Hugh opens his mouth?

If my choice was between a rematch with Real Steel and watching two Roombas duke it out in my living room, I’ll take the Roombas.  They suck louder, but not more.

Rock ‘em, sock ‘em, and forget ‘em.


7 Responses to “Real Steel”

  1. runester says:

    Hey, this was a great review! I was just wondering about what happened to the edgy & acerbic reviews I used to enjoy on Movie Juice and then I read this. You’ve still got it! Nicely done.

    Favorite line: “If my choice was between a rematch with Real Steel and watching two Roombas duke it out in my living room, I’ll take the Roombas. They suck louder, but not more.” :D


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    Thanks Steve!


  2. Suhaib says:



  3. Suhaib says:

    I wish you would write more often instead of making us wait for months.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    It’s not THAT long between! But thanks!


  4. BJ says:

    Love this post! That’s all I got for now.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    I’ll be looking for more later. Thanks BJ


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