Radio - Movie Review

by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars
Comments: The "feel-good" movie ofthe year! Sentimentaland poignant, it celebratesall that is good in man.
Directed By: Michael Tollin
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Debra Winger, Riley Smith, Sarah Drew, Chris Mulkey.
Written By: Mike Rich
Rated: PG - for mild language, thematic elements
Running Time: 1 hr : 49 minutes
Scripture References: Colossians 3:12-14, James 4:17, Galatians 5:14

The "Golden Rule" states that we should treat our neighbor as we ourselves would like to be treated. Nothing in that rule gives us permission to wait and see what kind of person our neighbor might be before we act. He may be a snob, or shy, or flat out obnoxious. He might even be mentally challenged as is the case in the season's newest feel good drama, Radio.

For years, James Robert Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr., The Fighting Temptations), has been pushing his shopping cart past the high school, minding his own business and being ignored by the community in which he lives. When a group of football players choose him to be the subject of a cruel and malicious prank, Coach Harold Jones (Ed Harris, Pollock) defies the common practice of the town by refusing to look away. He actually reaches out to the shy and inarticulate young man and extends to him the hand of friendship.

It is an action that comes at a cost. When Jones strives to integrate Kennedy, nicknamed "Radio," into his life and the lives of those around him, he meets plenty of resistance to the idea. Jones resolutely refuses to budge on any issue where Radio is concerned. His persistence and patience establishes a bond of trust and Radio begins to come out of his introspective shell to show Jones and the rest of the school a heart that is full of joy and goodness.

What follows is an emotionally powerful tale of human kindness and love. It is a love that is able to infect an entire community and change it for the better. This story is made even more poignant by our knowing that it was inspired by real life events. Stay through the credits for clips of the real Radio and Coach Jones.

Cuba Gooding Jr. gives a controlled and surprisingly understated performance. This one could have easily been overplayed or exaggerated but each time he gets close to pushing his characterization over the edge, Gooding manages to pull back on the reins. The result is a respectful, sympathetic look at a man whose limitations do not hinder his huge heart, his giving nature, or his enthusiastic joy of life.

Ed Harris is a picture of internal strength and character. As played by him, Jones is obsessed with two things - football and helping Radio. The latter obsession costs him time away from his own family and draws scorn from certain members of the community, but he never once considers backing off. For him, it is a simple matter of it being the right thing to do.

Radio was directed by Michael Tollin (Summer Catch) and the emotionally rewarding screenplay was written by Mike Rich, who penned last year's audience favorite The Rookie. Sentimental to a fault, Radio is sure to touch hearts and have audiences reaching for their tissues with its ageless message. The movie is a celebration of life, community, and the bond that links us all... Love.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

Manifesting these virtues requires that we do more than think about them. We must act. It isn't always easy and it is sometimes difficult to explain what drives us to a world that has become increasingly busier, more callous and self-serving. But the rewards that come as we reach out with love and kindness to all men will continue to pay dividends long after we are gone.

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