Haunted by a domineering father who tried to force him into boxing as a child, collection agent Fred (Victor Ptak) finds himself annoyed by his much younger supervisor, Johnny (Julian Shaw). Johnny is the type who wants his corporate team to bond via paintball matches, equates everything to military terms or offensive business-related acronyms (“RAPE,” really?) and his latest tactic is to get Fred to clandestinely spy on the collection agency call center to find out why they’re not as productive lately.
Which Fred does, striking up a friendship with a particularly rude, though entertaining, call center employee, Jess (Heather Nimmo). When Johnny introduces a boxing match as the next team building exercise, the pugilism-phobic Fred sees an opportunity to finally defeat his demons, and maybe even his a*****e boss. With his gardener and friend Gus (Edmund Dehn) as his trainer, Fred prepares for his long-delayed debut in the sweet science.
Kid Gloves is a fun film about redemption in the face of one’s own fears, and standing up for what’s right, no matter the age. With a self-image born of years of feeling like a loser, Fred’s new found urge to change his status, at least in his own eyes, underscores that it is never too late.
Which is part of the film’s charm, an underdog tale about a dog who is supposedly too old to learn a new trick. Ultimately it’s not about whether Fred boxes, even less that he do well in the ring; Fred’s finally found the spine he needs to stand up for not just himself, but for those around him. It’s inspirational, even when some narrative elements take a more tragic tone.
Kid Gloves succeeds in much the same way the boxing classic Rocky does, in that for a film that many associate with boxing, it’s not really about boxing. Rocky Balboa wanted to change his status in life, wanted to no longer be seen as a bum, and saw the boxing match with Apollo Creed as his shot to show that he was worth something. Likewise, boxing is an opportunity for Fred to finally stop running from that which intimidates him. In both cases, it was never about who leaves the ring victorious, it was just about finding the courage to get in the ring and stand their ground. Better late than never.
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