Thursday, September 08, 2011

The First 15 Minutes Project #4: Mickey Ward

Okay, we’ve done a thriller, a comedy, and an action movie, so let’s move on to a drama. Like Andy (the 40 year-old virgin), Mickey in The Fighter is a fairly passive protagonist, so much so that his brother (half antagonist / half co-protagonist) almost takes over the movie. But I’d still say that Mickey’s the hero…

Mickey Ward in The Fighter:

  1. Begin on Mickey’s brother Dickey, drugged out, talking to a movie crew, talking himself up...
  2. We see old super 8 footage on the two brothers. Dickey is picking on Mickey.
  3. Halfway through the interview, Mickey comes and sits down next to Dickey, looking very embarrassed. Dickey says he’s the better fighter, compares their fighting styles: “Mickey takes punishment. I don’t know why he does it. Mickey gets on the inside, I stay on the outside.”
  4. Working for the city on a street maintenance crew, Mickey rakes gravel. Dickey shadowboxes him with his own rake on the ground. Finally Dickey gets Mickey to pretend to spar with him. We see that Dickey still has his film crew with him, supposedly making a movie about his comeback.
  5. Over music-filled opening credits, they walk through the streets. Everybody in town knows them and adores them as fighters. Dickey reaches out to everybody, Mickey hangs back. They take photos with people. They also run into a kid who seems mentally challenged, Dickey ignores him, but Mickey hugs him.
  6. Fifteen minutes into their scheduled practice at the boxing gym, Mickey is waiting for his “trainer” Dickey. He explains to Dickey’s film crew that Dickey will show up soon.
  7. A cop comes in to spar with Mickey instead, chiding him that he knows full well where his brother is. Mickey and Dickey’s mom comes in, orders the cop out of the ring, saying that that’s Dickey’s job. She’s dressed up fancy and wants the crew to get another shot of her entrance. She encourages the crew to interview the many sisters who are there to cheer the brothers on.
  8. She says to Mickey about Dickey, “He taught you everything, right honey?” Mickey smiles but won’t confirm that.
  9. We see Dickey smoking crack across town. He suddenly realizes he’s late.
  10. Dickey finally shows up at the gym. Dickey kids around with the cop, making Mickey laugh. Mickey and Dickey spar.
  11. At a bar afterwards celebrating, the family tries to explain the complicated mixed family situation to the film crew. Mickey laughs, but hangs off to the side and looks around the bar….
  12. Mickey sees a bartender named Charlene (Amy Adams) working the bar and taking shots with the guys, looking hot. She rings a bell every time she gets a tip.
  13. His stepdad sidles over to Mickey says to go talk to her. Mickey says, “I don’t want to talk to her if she’s gonna say no.” The stepdad says, “Get outta the corner. Come on.”
  14. Mickey approaches her but she blurts out, “Are you just gonna stand there and stare at my ass? Your father stares at my ass, but he talks to me. Thinks you’re the greatest. He didn’t tell me you were you.”
  15. She gets a tip and says it’s shitty, “You know what the bell says about this tip? (thumps bell lightly) Cheap bastard. Cheap fucker.” Then back to Mickey: “You pave streets, right?”
  16. He responds, “Yeah, I do. And I’m a fighter.” She retorts “Oh yeah, I heard you were a stepping stone.” He says, “I’m no stepping stone.” “Well, you’re the guy they use against the other fighters to move the fighters up.” “Oh, I had a few tough fights, but that’s not who I am. The next fight’s gonna show who I am.”
  17. Another guy orders a drink and insults Mickey and Charlene. Wahlberg starts to beat the guy up but he flees.
  18. Dickey stops by and talks Mickey up to Charlene. Mickey starts to talk up Dickey, too, but Charlene stops him and asks him more about himself instead.
  19. Mickey explains that he’s tired of mindless brawling. He wants to out-box his next opponent, not just pummel him. He explains his plan and arranges her body to demonstrate.
  20. He finally asks her out. She asks if he’s married, like most guys who ask her out. He says he’s not but he has a daughter from an old relationship who he sees every weekend. She is wary but says yes.


j.s. said...

This might seem rather obvious but so far most of the heroes are not just misunderstood but underestimated. This appears to be a key aspect of the conflicts they face. An antagonist might not be so likely to tussle with our heroes if s/he were judging their strengths properly. Likewise being underestimated makes every protagonist instantly relatable. Who among us doesn't in some way feel this in our own lives? If only the world could see what we can really do...

Matt Bird said...

This is an excellent point. In fact, I think the film medium is especially suited to show that someone is underestimated:

We hear what people say about them, then we see what they can do, and we get angry that one doesn't match the other. Since movies are equally suited to one-person process scenes and multi-person dialogue scenes, it's great at creating that dichotomy.