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Resurrecting the Champ

Starring Samuel L Jackson, Josh Hartnett, Kathryn Morris, Teri Hatcher, Alan Alda
Screenplay by Allison Burnett and Michael Bortman
Based on the LA Times article by J.R. Moehringer
Directed by Rod Lurie

IN SHORT: for the guys. [Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief language. 111 minutes]

BEFORE WE BEGIN: Given our respect for director Rod Lurie's earlier film works -- he's been doing teevee the last few years, so welcome back Rod! -- Resurrecting the Champ is just the kind of film a critic needs to see after sitting through two hours of film of rape and man-rape and otherwise stomach turning arthouse fare. That was the case the night we saw Resurrecting the Champ. That's why we may be slightly off on the rating. We've been at this a dozen years folks, we don't think we're off by much; half a buck in either direction is probably right, but you should know when we know our opinion is affected.

Lurie would understand. He was a film critic for a lot of years, too, prior to his directing stint. Cranky, on the other hand, was a director before he started writing reviews. Go figure. Okay, on to the film . . .

Yet another "based on a true story" Resurrecting the Champ is a pretty good sit; a reg'ar guy helps another, formerly more than reg'lar, guy out after the latter falls on hard times. The latter reg'lar guy is first seen being beat upon by a quartet of yuppie punks who berate the old man as "Champ." It is only the intervention of Denver Times sports reporter Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett) that ends the rout. Thus are we introduced to Battlin' Bob Satterfield (Samuel L Jackson), a boxer whose heyday was back in the 1950s and who, theoretically, has been dead for the last twenty years. Living on the streets, his belongings in a shopping cart, "I'm not a bum. I'm homeless," claims the Champ. Kernan senses a story but Satterfield holds a grudge against another sports writer named Kernan, who Satterfield blames for "wreckin' his career" back in 1953. Once an addled mind grasps that the son is not the deceased dad, a bond is formed. Few contemporaries of the Champ are still walking the earth. Satterfield's own son refuses to talk to the reporter about his dad.

It's a story waiting to be told, though Kernan needs to find the angle and the place to tell it. He, himself, lives in the shadows of a famous father -- a famed radio broadcaster of classic boxing matches and other sports things. With a career stilted by editor Ralph Metz (Alan Alda) who doesn't find any heart in his writing, Kernan is desperate to find his big story. The big break that will make all well in his world -- perhaps repairing the separation with his wife and six year old daddy worshipping son. When Bob's story is pitched, Metz spikes it as too much ' been there done that' mode. The Times publisher, on the other hand, loves the idea of the story and rams it through the pipeline, to the cover of the next Sunday Denver Times Magazine. Showtime Boxing, with a cameo appearance by Teri Hatcher, comes calling with televison offers for Kernan. Readers send cash money to help Satterfield out. All is well with the world.

Wise viewers know to turn on their fans, 'cuz something nasty is about to hit, storywise. Here Resurrecting the Champ veers off into an entirely different kind of viewing experience. Consider it a seamless two-in-one experience that keeps boxing and family in its sights and, unlike this year's earlier two-in-one Grindhouse, is a much easier and more involving overall sit. Much more recommended by us, as well.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Resurrecting the Champ, he would have paid . . .


Resurrecting the Champ is the guy oriented dateflick of the week

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