A Jewish woman from Detroit who became a boxing manager, guiding several major careers. This film focuses on her relationship with one boxer (Epps), who's reportedly a composite of several including Toney, McKart and Hearns. Kallen eventually left her husband of 30 years, and moved to Los Angeles, becoming the commissioner of the International Female Boxers Association...Written by
Sloppy, sentimental boxing comedy-drama is based on successful female boxing manager Jackie Kallen's tough rise to the top ('loosely inspired' seems a more appropriate term). Meg Ryan plays Kallen with a streetwise edge in her voice and is appropriately cast, but her outlandish wardrobe certainly belies the salary of a glorified secretary, and Tony Shalhoub embarrasses himself as a 'Godfather'-styled kingpin of the boxing mecca (he dresses and talks like John Gotti, but only seems to have one client). Charles Dutton directed, and his own performance as the veteran trainer (yet another cliché) is at least warmly thought out--ironically, it's the best acting here. "Ropes" is a lackluster film, put together and distributed as if nobody involved had a hope in hell for it. The boxing scenes are slapdash, with Ryan walking right across the ring at one point to deliver a last-second pep-talk to Omar Epps, the kind of conspiratorial speech that is older than dirt (why doesn't she just say, "Win one for the Gipper"?). Omar's rise to success is swifter than a bad odor, which is pretty much what this misfire leaves in its wake. *1/2 from ****
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