Set in 1976, real life Coach Jones befriends mentally disabled black student, Radio. They then form a friendship and bond over the football season. Though things take a turn for the worst when certain fans and parents feel that Radio is a distraction, and is getting in the way of the team succeeding.
Most of the fans in the stands during the games were students and fans from Goose Creek High School, a school in the Charleston suburb of Goose Creek (about 45 minutes from Walterboro, where the movie was filmed). They were chosen because the school uses the same colors as TL Hanna. Goose Creek and Hanna met in the 2008 state playoffs, allowing many of the extras in the movie to meet the real Radio. See more »
Spanish moss can be seen hidden from the trees. This type of moss only occurs in the lower state (where filmed) not in the Anderson, SC area. See more »
[holding pants up to the phone for approval]
How dese ones, Co' Jones?
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During the end credits, clips show the real James Robert Kennedy at Hanna High School football games in the present day. See more »
'Radio' tells the true life story of a high school football coach who befriends a severely mentally retarded young man (whom they nickname 'Radio' because he loves listening to the radio so much), lets him hang out with the team, and, thereby, changes not only the boy's life but the lives of just about everyone in the South Carolina town in which they live. When Radio's behavior on the sidelines begins to serve as a distraction during the games, some of the less sympathetic, die-hard football fans of the town make an effort to downplay his role or eliminate his presence altogether.
Set in 1976, 'Radio' is a thoroughly predictable, sentimental heart tugger that will have people either gagging on the syrup or crying in their popcorn. For all its heavy handed manipulation, however, 'Radio' turns out to be a pretty decent little film due, primarily, to the superb performances by Ed Harris and Cube Gooding Jr., and to the fact that the movie doesn't overplay its hand as often as it might. In fact, it wisely underplays much of the conflict, allowing the moments of quiet subtlety to predominate. As played by Harris, Coach Jones is a solid, decent, caring man who can't help but give his love to a fellow human being who needs it. Harris' soft-spoken strength makes us believe in the goodness of the man. The film does an effective job conveying the incredulous reactions of many of the otherwise well-meaning town folk, as even Radio's own mother asks Joe why he is doing what he's doing. The scenes between Jones and this woman, lovingly played by S. Epatha Merkerson, are some of the finest in the film. The movie also isn't afraid to confront the issue of whether the people of the town - and that includes Jones himself - aren't actually being patronizing towards Radio in their treatment of him, and whether he isn't more of a 'mascot' for the team than a bona fide member. Gooding Jr. slips effortlessly into the role of Radio, making him a compelling figure even though he has virtually no lines of dialogue in the movie. Alfre Woodard is excellent as the caring but nervous school principal who sees Radio's presence on campus as a potential threat to student safety, but who has enough faith in Jones to give Radio a chance to prove himself. It's nice to see Debra Winger in a movie again, although her role as Jones' ever-patient, ever-supportive wife, doesn't give her much room to strut her stuff as an actress.
There's no denying that 'Radio' is a humanity-of-man type film that could easily set the teeth on edge with its Goody Two Shoes philosophy of life. Be that as it may, 'Radio' turns out to be a warm, uplifting film that even Scrooge would probably like.
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