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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Radio (review)

Autumn not only means football, it means actors angling for Oscars, and those two birds are killed dead with one stone, though you’ll likely want to throw many more. Cuba Gooding Jr. (Pearl Harbor) won’t be getting any nominations — in fact, his bumbling performance here makes one wonder if we can’t retract the Oscar he already has — but dang if he doesn’t try his hammy hardest as James “Radio” Kennedy, a retarded man who enjoys french fries, hugs, and tinkering with transistors. The overwrought melodrama dished out by director Michael Tollin eagerly embraces the tradition of true stories turned sickeningly sappy through thick application of phony sentimentality and a heavy coating of Hollywood gloss. If there’s anything bizarre or uncomfortable, for instance, in how a Carolina football coach forces his high school players to atone for a sickening attack on Radio by adopting the older man as their mascot, it is ignored in favor of celebrating how condescension invariably breeds acceptance. Ed Harris (The Hours) as the coach just barely manages to maintain his dignity, but Gooding slathers on the schmaltz shamelessly. If only there were an Academy Award for overacting…


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MPAA: rated PG for mild language and thematic elements

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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