Radio once brought me to tears, it also used to be in my DVD collection. The story of Radio is sad in many ways, but also inspiring in so many others. Quite honestly Cuba Gooding, Jr. gives one of the best performances of his career as a developmentally challenged man who catches the eye of the high school football coach played by Ed Harris. Radio barely speaks and is about as socially awkward as they come. Together these two will form a friendship that would last for decades and break so many barriers along the way.
I haven’t seen this movie in more than a decade and even with the parts I remember, I didn’t feel the emotions I once did many years ago. Maybe I didn’t appreciate the finer details that went into everyone’s performances, which was something I found myself more focused on this time around. At first glance, this is a great story, a story worth telling. But the movie version of Radio lacked the raw emotion you would expect given the subject matter. I think by getting drawn into Gooding, Jr’s performance, you forget there isn’t a whole lot going with the actual story. There’s little to no character development, except the growth we see in Radio, the growing concerns with the parents, and the fighting spirit in Coach Jones to defend his actions.
This film could divide audiences because there are some who think Jones is stepping out of line for his actions. The other will appreciate the sympathy he shows and his ongoing attempts to change everyone’s opinion of the quiet stranger. A handful of moments will tick you off because those who don’t like Radio will trick him into bad situations which could jeopardize his good standing in the community. Pranks seem harmless to those who understand them, but to those who don’t know any better, the results can turn out to be pretty bad.
Radio is not really a football movie, even though the football field, coaches, and players are at the heart of it all. It will be a hit or miss with a lot of you who would have expected a lot more heart and soul. There are hundreds of thousands of biography movies out there, some standout, some are terrible, and some just fall in the middle like Radio. 5/10