Plot: Erik (Josh Harnett) is an up-and-coming sports writer in Denver. He’s dealing with being in his father’s shadow, working at the paper with his separated wife, and being a hero to his son. He encounters a homeless man who calls himself Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), and may have stumbled on the story that will take his career to the next level. Who’s it for: The main appeal of this film is the journalism and talk of what boxing used to be. Plus, you have to be comfortable with the homeless since Jackson gives a good performance as someone who lives on the street.
Expectations: Since I am a journalist and enjoy sports, this film is right up my alley. Unfortunately, Josh Harnett isn’t really dependable for delivering great films.
Josh Hartnett as Erik: Harnett pulls off the performance as a sports writer who wants more out of his life. He’s good at playing eager, but still has problems with heartfelt. It still just looks like he’s squinting instead of feeling. Grade: 5
Samuel L. Jackson as Champ: Visually, Jackson has the homeless look down. Perhaps it’s because this isn’t the first time he has portrayed the type (“Caveman’s Valentine”). His voice is perfect as well, but it’s odd because our society doesn’t appreciate seeing the homeless, so it will be interesting to see if they care to watch Jackson’s performance. The only downside was that Champ was extremely lucid, which cannot be said for the majority of the homeless. Grade: 7
Alan Alda as Metz: It’s a small role, but I was sucked into Alda’s performance as the sports editor that has clearly been around the block in the newspaper world. Grade: 7
Talking: Some of the lines are a little too earnest and forced. I did like the focus on trying to be your kid’s hero, and the little lies that may later cause problems, but by the end of the film, I was hit over the head with the messages. Grade: 4
Sights and sounds: Again, great makeup on Jackson. The boxing scenes weren’t top of the line, but they never looked fake. Grade: 6
Best Scene: This is where the journalist in me comes out … when Erik is staring at a blank screen, I know exactly what he was going through.
Ending: Too long and filled with too much sunshine. The concept that a journalist would get the chance to write his way out of a problem just seems like too much of a stretch.
Random Thoughts: I think I had my blinders on for most of this film. I loved the talk of deadlines, research, and the genuine excitement over getting the Sunday paper was just fun to see on the big screen.
Rewatchability: If I watch this film again, I’m worried all the negatives will be glaring. It’s best that this stays a one-time viewing that I remember fondly.
“Resurrecting the Champ” has its heart in the right place. Diving into father and son drama, while trying to figure out the rest of your life is something almost all of us can identify with. The story of Champ, a boxer who almost got his shot at the title, fits into one of those life stories that holds tons of drama, but simply get lost over the years. And even though the melodrama gets ratcheted up at the end, there were plenty of moments I found myself cheering for the Champ.
Overall Grade: 5