“Radio” is a crossover between critically-acclaimed dramas and cheesy family-friendly films. The critics hated it but it is nice to see a drama with good acting that can be enjoyed by all ages. This heartwarming story about helping others is not without its clichés, predictable plot developments, and cheesy sentimentality. There aren’t any major twists to catch us off guard and most aspects of the story have been seen in other films; still, the simplicity of the story and PG-rated content make this a good introduction into “real” dramas for preteens. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s performance is difficult to rate. His youthful look works in his favor as the 35-year-old actor plays the 18ish-year-old titular character in the film. His acting is a complete transformation from what we are used to seeing and there are times that you would believe that he is actually disabled, but there are also moments where it seems overacted. This is definitely not his “Rain Man” or “I Am Sam” role. Ed Harris is good but lacks the spark that we expect from such an established actor. My favorite performance in the film comes from Alfre Woodard as the principal that must mediate between the community and what is best for Radio. It delivers on the sports sequences that draw in male audiences but the film misses the potential of tying racism more strongly into the plot (maybe they were trying to avoid comparisons to “Remember the Titans” which came out 3 years earlier). Although I enjoyed revisiting this movie, I was more impressed with “Radio” as a high school student than I was as an adult. Perhaps that is the greatest testament to it being a good transitional film that parents can enjoy with their younger viewers.
[Pictured: Tough to believe that this is the same actor in "Jerry Maguire."]