"Radio" claims its own niche in the inspirational sports movie genre,
relating the mentoring relationship between a mentally challenged black man and
a South Carolina football coach.
Based on a true Sports Illustrated story by Gary Smith and set in the
1970s, it revolves around shy James Robert Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr.),
nicknamed Radio, who hung around the high school football field where was
spotted by Coach Jones (Ed Harris) and invited to help out with practice.
Suspicious yet eager, Radio complied - only to be tied up in an equipment shed
by a few cruel players. Eventually, however, he was accepted an unofficial
assistant on the team. And the crux of the story is not only how Radio finds
his way in the world but how those around him are affected by knowing him.
Closing clips of the real-life Radio are particularly moving.
Who would expect a football movie to say so much about friendship and
love? Its charm lies in its affection for its idiosyncratic characters and its
thoughtful mixture of humor and sentiment.
Directed by Mike Tollin, Cuba Gooding Jr. is a marvel. His quirky,
Oscar-caliber portrayal has depth and poignancy - he's an original. Ed Harris
is kind and fierce, hesitant and determined. He's the perfect no-nonsense actor
to bring this laconic coach to life. Its the skill of these two actors, along
with less flashy supporting turns from Debra Winger, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Drew
and S. Epatha Merkerson, that compensate for the somewhat sappy, formulaic
script by Mike Rich ("Finding Forrester") which is burdened by James Horner's
contrived and overblown musical score. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10,
"Radio" is a gentle, sweet 7. It's a wistful and warm movie for the whole
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger