Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris
After a group of high school football students hogtie and torment a local mentally handicapped man, the football coach takes it upon himself to make ammends by helping the man grow as a member of the team, the school, and the community.
I have heard that the movie "Radio" is a good one. I've heard that it contains very good performances and a touching "based on actual events" story. I've heard that this movie is an emotional roller coaster that will have me in tears one minute and in stitches with laughter the next. All these wonderful things I've heard about "Radio", quite frankly, doesn't do the movie justice and I can't figure out which is more surprising to me: that it didn't win an Oscar, or that I'm the first to think to review it for Wild Sound Movies!
A 20-something (or perhaps 30-something) black man named James Robert "Radio" Kennedy (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) pushes a grocery cart along traintracks. When a train comes, he simply moves himself and cart to the side and waves enthusiastically as the train rolls past. Moments later, he gets in the card and steers it down hill on the freeway before coming to the downtown area of Anderson, South Carolina in the 1970's. As he goes along his merry way, he picks up various odds and ends to put into his grocery cart, all while enamored by the radio he listens to. At length, he comes across the high school football team of T.L. Hanna High School and watches their practice. A long punt clears the fence and lands near Radio. When one of the players makes fun of him and tells him to throw the ball back, Radio the ball in his cart and leaves. The football coach, Harold Jones, doesn't mind.
Later, Coach Jones and his assistant coach find that a handful of their players have tied Radio up in the equipment shed and are taunting him from outside. Coach Jones sets Radio free and reprimands the players by having the next day's practice (for them, at least) last several hours longer than normal as he makes them run an endless number of laps while he allows Radio to watch. Not long after, he invites Radio to help the team out, to which the silent Radio begrudgingly accepts.
Radio quickly becomes something akin to the team's mascot. He aids in every aspect from being waterboy to equipment manager to assistant coach. At the games, he helps (and sometimes hinders) from the sidelines as a coach and even joins the cheerleaders in getting everyone riled up. The team wins about half of their games, and Coach Jones is pleased with that. The parents, however, are not, and blame Jones' relationship with Radio as the cause of them losing any games at all.
Once the season is done, Coach Jones gets Radio into the school as an honorary 11th grader and gets him to help the basketball team in the same way he did the football team. Radio comes out of his shell and the community loves him (with exception of one of the athlete's father).The film becomes about the ups and downs of Radio's road to being integrated in the school and community including everything from the town giving Radio and his mother Christmas gifts, to being tricked into entering the girl's locker room. "Radio" is a fantastically beautiful drama that had me laughing out loud, crying so hard I could barely see, and even yelling profanities at the characters when they tricked Radio into going into the girl's locker room just to see him do it (the little assholes!).
The acting in this film is, in a word: perfection. Cuba Gooding Jr. gives an absolutely stellar, heartfelt performance that was jaw-droppingly beautiful and also gut-wrenchingly sad. I just now saw on IMDB that he was apparently nominated for a Razzie for WORST actor for his role in this film. I have to say, I do not understand that AT ALL. I thought he was outstanding and deserving of an Oscar nomination, if not win. After all, look at the other nominated actors: Johnny Depp for "Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (really? I mean, it was fun, but BEST actor?), Ben Kingsley for "House of Sand and Fog" (no comment as I haven't seen that movie yet), Sean Penn for "Mystic River" (ok, that one I'll agree with, and he was the winner), Jude Law for "Cold Mountain" (I haven't seen this one either), and Bill Murray for "Lost in Translation" (which, I gotta say, I kinda hated that movie and thought it was dull dull dull!). But I digress... point is that Cuba Gooding Jr. was amazing as his role of the title character in "Radio", and I'm shocked that not only did he not get a nod for his great performance, but he got snubbed so bad as to be nominated as it being the worst performance of the year! REALLY?! WHY?! HOW?!
Cuba Gooding Jr. wasn't the only great actor here. All the actors involved did amazing jobs. In fact, the whole cast and crew did great jobs making this fantastic film, that should be seen by everyone. I thought it was going to be just another sports movie... but it's much more than that. It's a heartfelt character piece which has sports in it. If you haven't seen "Radio", you should check it out the first chance you get! Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy.
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