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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Spanish, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Hindi, Romanian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Commentary - English
  • 6 Deleted scenes
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 3 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • DVD-ROM features
  • 6 Filmographies


Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . PG . PAL


In the world of cinema when you take a story from real life, you can call it one of three things; A true story, which is a very closely fitting retelling of an actual event or events, Based on a true story, in which some liberties with actual events and characters are taken and Inspired by a true story. This is the one where they extract all the most meaningful parts, strip away the everyday dross of reality and fill it in with the most engaging and emotional content they can.

In Radio we are going with the final option as the story of James Robert ‘Radio’ Kennedy is told in true heartwarming style. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the slightly retarded man Radio, who has had little education and is extremely shy. When he is set upon by Coach Harold Jones’ (Ed Harris) high school football team, he enlists Radio to help out with the coaching work. This is met with mixed emotions from both the school board and the local townsfolk, but the coach, who has a great measure of respect in the town’s eyes, sticks to his guns. Soon Radio (named after his love of all manner of you guessed it… ), previously voiceless, finds an outlet for his inner mind and his exuberance and love of people comes pouring out of him to the point where he’s even reading the school announcements over the P.A.

"It’s never a mistake to care for someone… that’s always a good thing."

In time, Radio’s detractors amass themselves and a showdown between the rednecks that don’t want a ‘dummy’ working with their kids and the townsfolk behind Radio is imminent.

Well, when I read that director Michael Tollin (I>Summer Catch) was directing here I almost signed this one off as a predictable sugar-induced spasm in the making, but was actually heartily impressed. The story itself is obviously a sweeter and cleaner version than that which actually occurred (hence the Inspired by), but it has been handled fairly well. While getting itself a little diabetic in parts and a little empty and clichéd in the scripting, it still turns into a very moving and heartwarming tale of Middle America in the mid-1970s.

Attention to detail regarding authenticity of the era is excellent and this goes a ways toward making the film work in some regard. Obviously some of the less politically correct moments here might not occur in a modern society (or at least aren’t supposed to), but all have been handled in, again, a generally clean manner. Performances are exceptional from both Ed Harris (as usual) and Cuba Gooding Jr. returning to form after a few weaker choices of late.

I liked it a lot, and while it could have been a little more hard-edged in parts, it has managed to maintain a semblance of reality as a stirring portrait of the limitless bounds the misunderstood can achieve when lent a little encouragement. It will be a hard heart indeed that can’t be moved in even the slightest manner by this film and the disc’s contents.


An exceptional transfer without a single flaw I could detect. Picture quality throughout remains sharp and well lit with great shadow detail and true colours. Flesh tones are even and realistic and the overall look of the film is brilliant. No flaws here equals a ten outta ten.


The film is delivered in a fairly standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround deal that does sound just fine. While the surrounds don’t do a lot by way of background noise, they do support some key scenes – in particular the long, rolling and fever-pitched football games. Otherwise the surrounds ably help out the moving of the music into the surround channels. The subwoofer maintains a constant workout that is downplayed half the time, but robust during the rest. It’s all good.

The film is opened and closed by the narration of Debra Winger playing the coach’s understanding and supporting wife, though by the end of the film it’s easy to forget she started the ball rolling. This bookending of the film doesn’t entirely sit true with nothing in-between, but isn’t overly offensive. She does a good job of it anyway, even if it's too brief.

Finally, music has been scored by one James Horner (Titanic among numerous others) who has added his usual orchestral range and full complement to capture every moment in just the right way. A very nice work for the film and for fans of his scores.


A nice wide band of extras to track along your radio dial are on offer here. The radio themed animated menus are a nice touch here, although the Dolby space trailer is the usual piece of crap.

There’s a director’s commentary from Michael Tollin that isn’t actually too bad as far as one-man bands go. He’s certainly chatty and full of info, so that’s always a plus. He’s also enthusiastic, which is definitely a plus on any film that is put together well.

Tuning in on Radio is a 21:50 featurette that features interviews with the real characters the film is based on. While being a general TV promo/electronic press kit bit this one is better than average and interesting for the sole fact of the authentic characters.

Writing Radio is 12:25 of interviews with the original author of the Sports Illustrated article that brought the real Radio to national attention in the US. Screenwriters Mike Rich and Harold Jones also discuss the translation of reality into ‘inspired by’ for the film.

The 12 Hour Football Games of Radio is a slightly too long 9:48 about the perfection in choosing only the best football players for the matches in the film. It struck me as a little bit too pedantic when the film isn’t about football at all, but that’s attention to detail for you I suppose. The training seems a little bit too anal as well for a bunch of film extras, so hopefully they got paid better than the usual non-speaking extras do.

Six deleted scenes do add a little something extra and come with an optional director’s commentary, while six filmographies follow for lead cast and crew.

Finally a short string of two trailers play us out for Radio and Mona Lisa Smile.

All up that’s a better than average collection of extras there with some genuinely interesting and unusual inclusions, particularly in the scads of footage of the real-life Radio and Coach Jones.


Radio is one of those well-sculpted moments in cinema you can recognise as doctored by the standard clichés that pop up here and there. However, that’s not to say that the film isn’t worth visiting. In fact, there’s still a fantastic story here about listening to your heart over your head and believing in someone other than yourself.

Performances are spot-on from both Harris and Gooding Jr. and together they have a good working relationship that is the entire strength of this film. The fact that it’s a true story, albeit a fairly sterilised version, makes it all the more appealing.

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      And I quote...
    "While only ‘inspired by a true story’, the performances here make up for any inadequacies of the scripting (of which there are a couple)."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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