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Radio
USA 2003
Directed by Mike Tollin
Running time 109 minutes
Rated PG
3 stars


I'm quite circumspect of movies such as this that feature characters with brain damage of some nebulous type. Are they genuinely introducing the viewer to the world of the disabled or simply exploiting our sympathies with a tidied-up version of it. Compare this film (or for another recent example, Gigli) with Bad Boy Bubby (1993) and it looks as anodyne as any Hollywood depiction of reality, even when it is, as here, 'based" on a true story. But Radio is a typically American mainstream feelgood movie not a fringe-dwelling black comedy, so, as they say, you pays your money....

The film takes us to familiar working class small-town Americana with sport as the community life-blood, the dads' meeting at the barbershop to discuss the week's performance, the tell-it-like-is coach (Ed Harris) and son on, but the novelty item is his protégé, James "Radio" Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a mentally-disabled (or to use the politically-correct term, "developmentallly challenged") young man that he recuperates from social pariahdom.

It's a story with an obvious message but it is not proselytising or sentimentalising, the cast is top shelf with a good performance by Gooding, who is not renowned for his quality projects whilst Debra Winger, who hasn't been seen on the big screen since 1995's Forget Paris, plays the coach's loyal wife. Overall, although never likely to set the world afire, the film is well-made family viewing.

Available from: Columbia TriStar

 

 

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