Movie Review

RADIO

MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and thematic elements

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Also see our INTERVIEWS with the cast/crew of this film, including Christian Sarah Drew

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Drama
Length:
_____

Starring: Ed Harris, Cuba Gooding Jr., Debra Winger | Directed by: Mike Tollin | Produced by: Brian Robbins and Herbert W. Gains | Written by: Mike Rich | Distributor: Revolution Studios, Columbia Pictures

Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
 

Winning or losing is everything on the playing field of the film “Radio”, but unlike the well-known Hoosiers, the goal isn’t about winning games but winning people. Retelling this “inspired by” true story takes some uphill challenges, but eventually succeeds in showing the prize of simple human kindness.

It’s 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina when Harold Jones (Ed Harris), coach of the high school football team, reaches out to James Robert Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a mentally handicapped man, and bonds him anew to their small town community. To the bewilderment of the townspeople—and even the audience—Jones begins to include James in regular activities, first with school sports and then in the classroom. Finally discovering the motives behind Jones’ persistence in helping James is what enriches this simple story.

Family is at the heart of this movie, from Coach Jones’s family to the community at large. The only swearing in the film is at a football game and is presented humorously as James mistakenly keeps repeating a cuss word the coach blurts out in a moment of anger. In similar fashion, James is taken advantage of and led to chew tobacco at one point, and at another point tricked into walking into the girls’ shower room. There is no nudity, however.

More than the character of James (who comes to be known as “Radio”) this film is about Coach Jones and the decisions he makes. It is a good example of showing a person who has truly repented of his ways. In James 4:17, it says that “to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (NAS) Despite much opposition, Coach Jones has chosen to do what he knows is right and has forfeited his old ways.

This movie is a good choice for family audiences. At times it feels like the film tries to do too much and comes across a little contrived, but the values are excellent. And as a friend from South Carolina who attended the screening expressed, this film is an accurate portrayal of the simple goodness of southern people.

See our INTERVIEWS with the cast/crew of this film, including Christian Sarah Drew

Violence: None | Profanity: Minor | Sex/Nudity: None

Year of Release—2003


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
 

Positive—Finally, a family film that really IS a family film. We took our 9 and 12 year old children to see the sneak preview of Radio, and we were relieved to find a movie with a great message of love and moral integrity. We were all reminded of the importance of loving one another and how a little bit of compassion can go a long way in changing the lives of others. Highly recommended!
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Jami M., age 40
Positive—I really liked the movie a lot. I thought it was great to see someone reach out and touch a life that others never really gave a chance. It goes to show that there is something special in each person out there whether or not they have a handicap or not. I would recommend taking the family to this one.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4]
—alex, age 24
Positive—This is a movie that just makes you feel good inside. It makes you cry one minute and laugh the next. Having a son with a learning disability who was a male cheerleader in high school, this movie touched my heart. Hopefully, it will help more people learn that people with mental disabilities can have fun and be a part of a team just like normal kids can.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Linda, age 60
Neutral—“Radio” is a heart-tugger, an inspiring drama and a puzzling film at that. In its complete simplicity, I found myself wanted something more. Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of movies and so when I see a Hollywood-ized commercial film like this one, I cringe because with this kind of message/content, the movie could’ve been fantastic! However, the story is revealed with a fragmented feel and as a film, never quite reaches that emotional peak or punch that it so desperately needs to reach. Ed Harris was excellent, as usual and Cuba was okay (let’s just say I never could get myself away from the fact that he was “just acting”—usually, that’s not a good sign when actors play characters like these). However, looking at the film’s motives, it’s clearly Biblical in its approach toward inhumanity and I can definitely see a little of Jesus in Ed Harris’ character. That said, the exectution of the film is what is lacking in excellence… so I guess that is my biggest quelm with the film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2]
—N.G. Kiser, age 21
Positive—Amazing, simply amazing! This film will make you laugh, cry and overall get attached to its characters, yet when you leave the theater you will not feel you have wasted your time or money. I walked out of it with a good lesson of “loving your neighbor” and will recommend this movie to everyone who comes my way.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Carolyn, age 18
Positive—This was a great heart-warming movie. The story is well done and the acting is great. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris are both stellar actors and were very believable in these rolls. The only thing I remember that was objectionable was the use of the “sh” word but it was in a context that was not gratuitous but was humourous (and I hate bad language). I highly recommend this movie to adults, teens and older children. A real good Samaritan story.
My Ratings: [SLIGHTLY Objectionable / 4]
—Terri J, age 42
Positive—Calling this a “family” film, however, is stretching things quite a bit. This movie is appropriate only for adults and mature teens. First of all, the language in the movie is far worse than portrayed in Monroe’s review. The word “h**l” is used at least ten times, “d**m” twice, “s**t” (and a few varients, such as “chickens**t”)at least 14 times, and “Jesus” as an explative once. And, while the situation on the football field where Radio repeats an inappropriate word is somewhat humorous, it is disquieting for filth of any type to provide comedic relief to children and pre-teens.

In addition to the inappropriate language, some of the situations portrayed go beyond what is typical in a “family” film. In the early part of the movie, Radio is tortured by a group of football players who physically restrain him with athletic tape and then terrify him. While Radio’s capture is not a part of the film, Radio, bound and terrified, is shown. Radio’s fear and confusion when he is tricked into entering the girls’ locker room might also be too intense for younger viewers. Other somewhat confusing and/or disturbing situations for younger viewers could include the Coach’s lack of involvement with his own family, primarily his daughter, the death of a parent of one of the characters in the film, and a police officer who arrests Radio when he has done nothing wrong. A school board member who is tasked with approaching the school regarding the concerns of parents worried about the unknown component of a mentally challenged adult male possibly unsupervised around their children is cast into the light of an uncaring bully “out to get” Radio, while in truth he would be irresponsible to not at least investigate the situation.

This movie was poignant and well worth the price of admission, and certainly can provide the jumping off point for some valuable family discussion about the worth of the individual, valuing family and the importance of doing what is right, even when it is not popular. However, it is not appropriate for young children, and care should be exercised even when taking older pre-teens and young teenagers.
My Ratings: [SLIGHTLY Objectionable / 3]
—Karlene Turkington, age 37

Neutral—My wife and I took our 12 year old daughter based on a recommendation from the 700 Club. While the movie overall is wonderful with fine acting and a strong moral message, I believe it is not good for children or adolescents because of the language. There were a fair number of offensive words that were completely unnecessary. The film could have accomplished the exact same goal without d…, h…, and chicken s… used repeatedly. I was amazed that it received such a positive rating as a “family safe film” from the 700 Club. I was very uncomfortable with the language for my daughter’s sake.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Ab Abercrombie, age 47
PositiveCuba Gooding Jr. has played a variety of roles from a frustrated football player in Jerry Maguire to an author on the run in A Murder of Crows. He really extends his acting talents in this inspired true story of James Robert Kennedy, aka, “Radio”. Bring your hankies. Because this heartwarming tale will definitely have you crying your eyes out. Radio may be retarded, but his heart is always in the right place-as all Christians’ hearts should be. As Ed Harris says, “We haven’t been teaching Radio, Radio’s the one that’s been teaching us.”
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Edwin Hopkins, age 45
Positive—This movie is a rare treat for those of us who find it real hard to find a movie that is acceptable to watch according to Biblical principals. In scripture, we are told that “If you do it unto one of these, your doing it unto me.” This move exemplfies that passage. It also exemplifies the fact that God does not make any Junk!. There are lessons in this movie that demonstrate the human worth of people society is so often eager to “throw away.” The fact that Radio taught others more than they taught Radio is of paramount importance. Coach Jones displays such chacteristics of the fruits of the Holy Spirit! A must see! Aside from language, there is no objectionalbe material. There are a few curse words but God’s name is not used in vain and there are no extremely raw curse words used. To allow those words to prevent one from seeing this movie would be to miss out on a wealthy movie-going experience.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Kim Hubbard, age 38
Positive—Attended this movie with my wife and 8 year old son. It was the first mature drama we have attended together as a family, so we were quite aprehensive. The story line was very well scripted and played out. The exception to three scenes the movie was a great teaching on compassion and racical equality. One scene Radio mimics the coach’s heated dialogue with a football referee. He uses the term chicken “dung.” The two other scenes are where Radio is taunted for being handcapped. According to a recent interview on TV the real life gentleman who they call Radio is a faithful church attending, simplelife man with a big heart. I give this movie our endorsement with exception to its few short comings. Just so you know I doubt you can’t watch it without tearing up as its emtionally packed with good gestures of the heart.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Thomas, age 42
Positive—From a Christian worldview—this movie is definitely worth going to see. It is a fantastic movie that could open up numerous teaching moments with your children. The greatest lesson being that reaching out to people who are different from us is a way to share Jesus’ love for ALL people. Other lessons such as the real priority in our lives, as the Bible teaches and as revealed in this film, is relationships—with our family and with others. It is a movie about second chances, which we each are given over and over again through the grace of God. Radio is wronged by a guy on the football team, but he did not “tattle”—he got even by showing the “normal” kid kindness—similar to teachings in Proverbs. It shows how one man speaking out, can stir up discord—and by standing back and not stepping up and stand up for what is right—is just as bad and the consequence—the cost—may be greater then anyone was willing to pay—by the coach resigning.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Mary Ellen Bowman, age 47
Positive—I would rate this movie an excellent choice to see. It is based on a true story and I felt the movie delivered a very believable portrayal. It is heartening to know that a community is capable of accepting a person with a disability and allowing them to be a contributing citizen, and an exemplary one at that. It is rare today to find a movie with only one instance of vulgarity and that was when the coach had an outburst at a football game, saying “chicken s***.” No other offenses in the movie. It didn’t seem to me that it was something just added for spice in the movie but rather being accurate in the story. Be prepared for your heart to be touched, especially in the final shots.
My Ratings: [SLIGHTLY Objectionable / 4]
—Emily Blakely, age 57
Positive—…I felt that the message that the Ed Harris character portrayed about cutting through prejudice and ignorance toward someone that is considered “slow” or different” was the core of the film. He makes the statement that “he didn’t teach Radio but Radio thought him” was very appropriate. Cuba Gooding did a solid job of not coming off as “Rainman” in his portrayal and his large heart and willingness to love those around him without expectation of something in return exhibits some Godly principles that we all can ascribe to. I have recommended this film to my family and friends.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Markim Miller
Positive—…I work with people with disabilities and my sister-in-law and cousin are also disabled such like the character radio. I thought this movie was awesome. The actor who played Radio was great. Coach was unbelievable in his portrayal. I think the scripture that best portrays this movie is Job 29:15—I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I suggest that all should see it. Concerning the part where Radio curses at the football game shows us how we can be an impression on people both bad and good. I loved this movie, Hollywood keep on producing more like this.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Kevin Smyth, Brooklyn NY, age 40

Young peoples’ comments

Positive—I went to watch this movie not knowing anything about it, my friend begged me to go see it with her and so I did. It was a great movie. Cuba Gooding Jr. deserves an Oscar for his performance, it was very touching. It was the kind of movie you laugh, and cry through. I loved how the characters changed through the movie and how much they supported Radio. I also liked how Jones said that he loved football but he knew that there were more important things. That’s something I’ve been struggling with. I’m a hard core competitive volleyball player and that seems to have taken over my life. This film helped me to see that there are more important things, like God and family. I think knowing this will help me and many other Christian athletes be more confident and fearless in competition.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Sasha, age 15
Positive—This movie as great. It is a heart warming story, and had a great message about inclusion. In a Christian perspective the move is probably suitable for ages 8 and up because the message would be quite hard to comprehend if you are a young child. There is very mild language, but no other large problems. This movie is a definate must-see!
My Ratings: [Excellent / 5]
—A.I., age 12