Radio (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/05/2004


Two out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Extremely sugary feelgood movie, rendered watchable only by Ed Harris’ performance.

That Cuba Gooding Jnr, eh? He may have won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire, but he certainly hasn’t had much luck since – Radio is the latest in a long line of stinkers that includes Rat Race, Snow Dogs, Boat Trip and The Fighting Temptations. How on earth does he pick them? One thing’s for sure – he should fire his agent.

Football Coach Takes Retarded Man Under Wing

Anyway, Cuba plays Cuddly Mentalist James ‘Radio’ Robert Kennedy, a retarded man in the small South Carolina town of Anderson. Content to either push or ride around in a shopping trolley all day, Radio eventually comes to the attention of football coach ‘Coach’ Jones (Ed Harris), after some of Coach’s players play a mean trick on him (in what is, essentially, the only vaguely dramatic moment of the film).

Coach subsequently takes Radio under his wing, allowing him to be, in effect, the team’s mascot. However, some of the locals think Radio is a distraction and want him removed. Similarly, Coach’s wife (Debra Winger) tries to make him see that he’s spending more time with Radio and the players than with his own teenage daughter (Sarah Drew).

The main problem with Radio (the movie) is that it’s so relentlessly NICE. For one thing, although two characters in particular are clearly signposted as bigots, no-one ever mentions the fact that Radio is black, as if the film were unwilling to deal with the language that might ensue. Radio himself is sickeningly nice to everyone (the ‘message’ of the movie being that Niceness Is Good), to the point where you secretly long for him to get beaten up or something. It doesn’t stop there, though - Coach Jones and his wife don’t even have as much as a single argument, though there’s clearly one there to be had.

Based On A More Interesting True Story

Maybe it’s because the film is based on a true story – the real Coach Jones and Radio show up in a short bit of real-life footage that plays over the end credits. However, this only serves to make you realise that a documentary about the real-life pair would actually have been more interesting.

As for the performances, Ed Harris is superb in what is effectively the lead role and it’s a treat to see Debra Winger onscreen again after nine years, even if her character is criminally underwritten. Gooding, however, is just plain annoying, grinning and twitching and piling on the tics as if he can smell Oscars. He’s also saddled with a bizarre set of Comedy False Teeth, which is all the stranger when you realise that the real Radio doesn’t have big teeth at all.

In short, although there are one or two good scenes (for example, Coach Jones explaining to his daughter exactly why he cares about Radio), this is sickeningly sentimental stuff, although there might be comedy value in doing Radio impressions down the pub afterwards.

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Content updated: 20/07/2018 11:47

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