Home Video

Resurrecting the Champ - DVD Review



<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
//-->
</script>
<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">
</script></div>{/googleAds}Resurrecting the Champ is sold as a true-life sports movie. And on the surface it looks like a really good one. But as the story unfolds, and its bits and pieces begin misfiring in all directions, we learn it's really an example of how biting off more than one can chew is an analogy that pertains to filmmakers too.

The best sports movies in history have always found a way to artfully blend real-life issues with the love of game. Such heady topics as overcoming handicaps, dealing with weaknesses, and even finding true love, are oft-explored themes in the genre. But even the best can only manage one major issue per film. And that's where Resurrecting stumbles. Screenwriters Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett have constructed a sad story about father-son relationships, marital challenges, telling the truth, and journalistic ethics - all worthy topics. Unfortunately not one is completely fleshed out here, leaving a mess of a story, with only one interesting character and an odd plea for fathers not to lie to their children.

The "true" part of based on a "true" story, comes from the life of J.R. Moehringer, a former L.A. Times sportswriter who once found a homeless man claiming to be "Battling" Bob Satterfield, a once-upon-a-time ranked heavyweight boxer but now widely believed dead. Josh Hartnett plays Moehringer's alter ego, renamed Erik Kernan for the film and this time employed by the Denver Times. Realizing that he may be sitting on the story of his career, Kernan finally persuades the vagrant to grant an interview. The resulting story not only launches Kernan's career into the stratosphere, it also raises his stature in the eyes of his young son Teddy (Dakota Goyo), to whom he's already told more than a few half-truths and exaggerations, such as once playing a round of golf with Muhammad Ali and being an acquaintance of John Elway.

As doubts begin to surface not only about the authenticity of Kernan's story but also about the true identity of "the champ" (Samuel L. Jackson), we're overcome by one of those "pit-in-the-stomach" moments. This is when director Rod Lurie and his writers experience their greatest success. We truly feel for Kernan as he's forced to pay for the consequences of his sloppy journalism. But unfortunately, this also marks the point where we're overcome by the film's misguided direction. The relationship between Kernan and "the champ" two similarly lost souls, yet as different from each other as can be - is well written and actually becomes quite complex and alluring. It's fun watching Jackson's take on the destitute pugilist who toddles about in a hunched-over boxer's trot wheezing his sentences in a nasally whine. But inexplicably, the heart of the story refocuses and now centers on the relationship between Kernan and his son. Not that a good father-son thread can't work in a sports movie, it's just that you only get one good story to tell.

Resurrecting the Champ has some really good stuff going on that sometimes flirts with greatness. There's a brilliant story in there trying to get out, but unfortunately it just isn't told properly. The only character we really care about Jackson's - is cast aside like the cardboard box he would certainly call his home, leaving us with the feeling that in the hands of a different director and with a more refined script, the film could have been a true contender. Their hearts are in the right place, but unfortunately the execution falls short.

Jackson's "champ" is not the best character he's ever played, but it is certainly one of his most nuanced and fun to watch. Some of the film's best moments are when he's on the screen, and like Slingblade's Carl, we just "like the way he talks." As the proceedings come to a close, we get the feeling that the real story to be told is that of "Champ." We're given enough to suggest there's something really meaty there. But soon enough, we're on to the film's real message that recommends we resist the temptation to brag to our children about our own sports triumphs or something like that.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; making-of featurette; cast and crew interviews.

* Commentary - with director Rod Lurie
* Featurette - (4:24)
* Interviews - with cast and crew Lurie, Hartnett, Jacskson, Alda, Kathryn Morris and boxing/stunt coordinator Eric Bryson
* Trailers - for Bonneville, The Darjeeling Limited, Feast of Love and The Final Inquiry

Number of discs: - 1- Keepcase Packaging{pgomakase}

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes