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Radio - Movie Critique

Essay by   •  November 17, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  843 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,146 Views

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Movie Critique


The movie Radio is based on the true life story of James Robert "Radio" Kennedy, an African-American male with a slight mental disability, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.. The setting of this movie is in the small rural town of Anderson, South Carolina in 1976.The movie begins with the main character, Radio, pushing a grocery cart filled with his personal belongings and a radio, which he was affectionately named after, along a train track. During Radio's frequent journeys through the small town, he frequently passes the practice fields of the local high school football team, the T.I. Hanna Yellow Jackets. During these journeys, Radio's presence catches the eye of the head football coach Harold Jones, played by Ed Harris. At first Radio is hesitant of Coach Jones persistent good nature towards him, but their relationship begins to grow through a common love of football and the excitement it brings. As time passes Radio is integrated into the lives of the football team, and the entire high school. Coach Jones then begins to introduce Radio into his social circles, and Jones wife Linda played by Debra Winger, and his daughter Mary Helen, played by Sarah Drew become his family also. At first the community is taken back by this unusual relationship between Radio and Coach Jones, but soon people start to realize the sincerity of Radio's presence and Coach Jones helping hand. The main opposing character of Radio's presence in the school setting was Frank, played by Chris Mulkey, the father of Hanna's football and basketball star Johnny. Frank believed that Radio's presence in the school caused a distraction to the students, and his own son's success in athletics. The sentiment of Frank wasn't felt by the rest of the community and the subsequent controversy caused Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. The controversy of Radio's presence soon ended, and Radio was embraced by the community and made an honorary coach and student of T.I. Hanna, where he remains to this day.


The atmosphere within the setting of this movie was during a time period where disabilities and people with disabilities were looked upon in a negative and often threatening way. This movie showed two aspects of societies view on people with disabilities. Ed Harris' character Coach Harold Jones portrayed the empathetic view towards a person with disability, which led to questions about his motive. The other aspect shown was that of fear, which is portrayed when Frank and other opposition to Radio's presence in the school, spoke out. The in-depth research on the fictional character this movie was based on created an accurate depiction of a person with disabilities similar to Radio's condition. The combination of societies views on people with disabilities during that time, and the theatrical interpretation of Radio's condition gave the movie a realistic representation of people with disabilities. The movie also contained instances where the initiative of inclusion was argued. A main instance is when a mental health supervisor comes to the high school and discusses with Coach Jones the option of sending



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