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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Resurrecting the Movie

    Resurrecting the Champ follows journalist Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), as he discovers former boxing champ Bob Satterfield (Samuel L. Jackson) living homeless. It opens today.
    ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ follows journalist Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), as he discovers former boxing champ Bob Satterfield (Samuel L. Jackson) living homeless. It opens today.

    Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett: One is the quintessential Hollywood bad ass, the other the quintessential Hollywood pretty boy. Not exactly a match made in heaven.

    But in “”Resurrecting the Champ,”” the actors co-star in a film about Erik Kernan (Hartnett), a down-on-his-luck journalist who one night discovers a former heavyweight boxing contender (Jackson) who is a homeless man wandering the streets of Denver. Believing this man’s story is the key to bringing him the fame and respect he so desperately craves, Erik starts investigating and interviewing the homeless man – known on the streets as, simply, “”the Champ”” – with the hope of uncovering the story of a lifetime.

    “”Resurrecting the Champ”” is a solid movie with solid performances, but at the same time there is nothing about it that is particularly remarkable. Jackson, showing that he is indeed more than a cool dude who can rid planes of snakes, is very convincing as the title character. The role is very versatile and allows him to portray a broad range of emotions, from anger to pride, from humility to humor.

    But due to an unfocused screenplay by Michael Bortman (probably best known for his work in the film “”Chain Reaction””) and Allison Burnett (“”Autumn in New York””), Jackson’s character development loses steam midway through the movie and instead shifts to the growing career of Hartnett’s character and the strain that it puts on his relationship with his son. Out of nowhere, a movie that was thought to be about a has-been boxer becomes about father-son relationships.

    This isn’t bad in and of itself. Father-son relationships are universal and almost always presented in touching and emotional ways on screen.

    The problem is that it is introduced too late in the film and deters focus from the original story. And while it is interesting to see Josh Hartnett in a serious and more challenging role than in his other films, it is somewhat of a disappointment because neither he nor Jackson gets to fully embody his character. Had the father-son theme been introduced right from the get-go, when Kernan starts interviewing Champ, the film would have been drastically better.

    The father-son relationship doesn’t completely ruin the movie. Quite the contrary; once this subplot is given ample time to be played out on the screen, it is very emotional and heartwarming.

    This is because the relationship thematically manifests itself in each of the characters in different ways. Champ was abused by his father; Kernan was abandoned by his father and in turn lets down his own son by lying to him. But, as with Champ, Kernan is resurrected too: Once dead in the eyes of his son, as well as in his own, he begins anew and flourishes accordingly.

    “”Resurrecting the Champ”” is a good movie with a great message: all heroes, no matter how big or small, are unfortunately destined to fall – getting back up again is what makes them heroic. On the other hand, the path to this message is full of misleading forks in the road, which somewhat dampens the film’s overall effectiveness. In all, “”Resurrecting the Champ”” is not horrible, not great, but decent. Unfortunately for Samuel L. Jackson, that won’t be enough to get him the acting Oscar he so rightly deserves. Better luck next year.

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