While sappy, the film doest actually have a lot of charm to it with its wholesome Americana nature of storytelling along with its all American characters including Harris who is sort of the quasi-Tom Landry and with a story that just thinks to tell the good side of human nature, the side so many cynics, present company included, would scoff at. The film has a routine process but you never feel as if its an ordeal to watch the sap ooze off the screen with the character interaction and little dialogue between the characters. Harris as Coach Jones is interesting to watch because he endures the movie and actually tends to rise above it as a believable and likable character whom only has the best of intentions towards Radio. He's a man with morals we can admire and presents a face of humanity that we hardly ever see. Radio, while all over the place, is a sympathetic character with some personality traits that grow on us, and we want to see him rise above all obstacles he must endure, and when he accomplishes something, we also feel as if we accomplish something, not to mention the last effort in heart tugging in the end was welcome and a bit touching despite being blatant in its motives.
I think it's pretty
safe to say that by now, Cuba Gooding Jr. has nowhere to go but up, and
oddly enough, he keeps going downward. "Radio" isn't a whole step down,
but it is still a step down in the end. "Radio" is such a sappy film, I
had a cavity by the end of the credits. This cornball slice of Americana
using the safety plot device of a mentally
"Radio" takes a lot of really hokey elements, elements that would
usually make a good movie, a small town driven by sports, a popular
coach who's loved by the community, racism, and a mentally disabled man,
takes all of these devices and mixes them into a
After his team tortures and beats up the local mentally disabled boy who steals their football during practice unaware of his theft, coach Jones discovers him and punishes his team but suddenly begins taking the young man in under his wing. Radio is an odd character, sometimes incoherent, sometimes not, sometimes intelligent, sometimes not, Gooding Jr. plays him with much inconsistency and looks as if he's attempting to summon up the mannerisms of a mentally disabled man, but it seems like he didn't really research the real Radio.
Why is he called Radio? Because he collects radios (could there be any
other reason?), and
The problem here is, the script doesn't make us like Radio a whole lot.
Though we do tend to sympathize with Gooding's portrayal of the man, we
never really get to like him all that
And there were times where Gooding portrays Radio with an unintentional comedic tone failing to really portray him in anything other than comedic and odd, at times he really does tend to overdo it, and then under does it in many other scenes, so it's really inconsistent. Written by Mike Rich, this does tend to take a lot of jabs at the audience in attempts to make us cry or at least shed a tear or two with obvious and blatant plot developments that never really registered and just seemed transparent and obvious like the obligatory villain that's always featured in these stories for some odd reason.
If this is a true story why should you add a villain? If the writer and director had any such belief in that the source material was compelling enough, there'd be no need to add a villain, so then it's assumed since they took a liberty with the villain, then there'd most likely be other liberties so the film hardly feels genuine, it really makes no sense, and then there is a death of a major character that has basically zero set-up so it ultimately seems dumb and very tacked on by the writers to tug at the audiences hearts which never really works at all, except it makes us wonder why they'd add so much sap to a film that's based on a real person.
Ultimately, Harris gives an likable adequate performance and, while this does set out with the best intentions and has some charm with a few endearing moments, it's also really just sentimental, goofy, and very hokey with many emotionally manipulative moments that never registered.