8 out of 10


Truly Touching Story

Radio, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris is my best pick of the year, so far. It is a heart wrenching tale of a young mentally deficient man who begins helping a football team in small town South Carolina and ends up becoming a fixture in the school. This film is based on the life story of James Robert ‘Radio' Kennedy who still cheers on the team from the sidelines and coaches well into his 60's. Coach Jones, the man who found Radio as a young man and took him under his wing was just one of the many coaches.

Radio lives in the outskirts of town with his mother who works long hours at the hospital, leaving Radio with nothing to do but walk around the town. He walks by the schoolyard one day and finds the football team practicing and one of the balls goes over the fence, and he decides to keep it. A fed days later the coach find some of his players throwing footballs at an equipment shed, and when he opens it he finds a terrified Radio bound and gagged. On top of a very long and tiring practice for the insensitive boys as punishment, he decides to try and get this young man to open up and invites him to the practices. It does not take long for the team to adopt radio as a sort of mascot and treat him as a normal member of society rather than an outcast.

Every movie has to have an antagonist and this comes in two forms. The school board has some qualms about having a retard in their school and need constant reassurance from Coach Jones that he will watch him and keep him out of trouble. A local banker also feels that the retard interferes with his son, the star athlete, and Radio's sideline antics provide a distraction that he cannot afford if he wants a college scholarship.

The movie only deals with one year in this remarkable man's life. Despite his simplicity, he touches the life of everyone he meets in a positive way. He is warm and caring and even the athlete who hates him eventually comes to appreciate him.

Both Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris turn in wonderful performances, and the supporting actors also give the authentic feeling of a small southern town in the 70's. I cried several times during the movie, and I am glad I did not sneak into another movie like my room mate wanted to. It shows how one man can make a difference and demonstrates how we should treat each other, with respect, decency and good will.

Inspirationally Touching Tear-Jerker

Film Critic: Jamie Belair