Review by Gordon Justesen
Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard, Debra Winger
Director: Mike Tollin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2004
know some of you don’t know or don’t care about all that Radio’s learned
over these past few months. Well, the truth is…we’re not the ones who’ve
been teaching Radio. Radio’s the one been teaching us."
No matter how often they seem to be thrown in our direction, films
inspired by true stories still manage to make effective moviegoing experiences.
Such is the case of Radio, a movie
that something of a big occasion for my area since the story takes place no more
than 45 minutes from my hometown. The movie was actually shot a bit in and
around the very town of Anderson, SC. The fact that it was filmed a little and
take place near where I live doesn't make it a great movie by any means, but the
fact is that Radio is a piece of
downright feel good movie entertainment at its very best.
The story's central character, and all around heart, is that of James
Robert Kennedy, Jr., who goes by the name of Radio. He is portrayed by Cuba
Gooding, Jr. in one the actor's strongest screen performances since Jerry
Maguire. Radio is a mentally disabled young man who has a love for three
things in his life; the small radio he carries with him, his loving and caring
mother, and T.L. Hanna High School, where every day, Radio observes the varsity
football team's daily practice.
One day, he catches the attention of the football team's coach, Harold
Jones (Ed Harris). Having taking a liking to the unique individual, Coach Jones
eventually allows Radio to become a designated helper on the team, helping out
in practice and being able to view the games directly from the sidelines
alongside the coaches. Coach Jones sees Radio as a sort of motivational tool for
the team, while fellow players, as well as members of the team booster club see
him as more of a distraction.
The reason for Coach Jones feeling the need to lend out a kind hand to
Radio isn't so much clear, but following an earlier stunt involving the team
locking Radio up in a shed, it could be considered something that the coach
simply feels he needs to make up to the young man. At the same time, the coach
can easily show his players how cruel they were in the beginning, even if they
saw the incident as a harmless prank by expressing the benefits of a little good
old human compassion.
There are many sporting sequences in the film, but Radio is hardly a sports movie. Its heart is more in the story of
the special bond between the determined football coach and the unique individual
who eventually becomes a special part of the high school he has so much love
for. Before long, Radio is soon being accepted into classes in the school, on
behalf of the coach, despite reservations from the school board who aren't too
thrilled about trying to teach a mentally challenged individual.
ranks with the likes of In America and
Seabiscuit as one of the best
feel-good movies of the year. It's hard to resist a movie with a cast like this
and a story so truly inspiring. And the truth is that I'm sure anyone will be
happy that they chose to experience this touching story in the end.
Columbia Tri Star's anamorphic transfer is of acceptable and
near-excellent quality. Image quality is sharp and clear for the most part, give
or take an instance of visible change in the level of dimming in one brief shot.
Other than that, this is one presentation that shines and soars like the story
The 5.1 track actually surprised me in a few areas. Sequences of football
and basketball games are splendidly rendered with super crisp audio, making the
noise of the crowd seem like they're sitting all around you. The story is set in
the late 70s, which means various 70s rock and soul music classics appear in the
soundtrack, each of which is heard magnificently. Quite a nice piece of sound.
CTS kicks a good field goal with a nice set up of sideline bonuses.
Included is a commentary with director Mike Tollin, three featurettes;
"Tuning in on Radio", "Writing Radio", and "The 12-hour
Football Games of Radio". Also featured are deleted scenes and trailers,
including bonus trailers for Big Fish,
Mona Lisa Smile, Something's Gotta Give, and Rudy.