Radio (2003)

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Released 16-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Director
Featurette-Tuning In On Radio
Featurette-Writing Radio
Featurette-The 12-Hour Football Games Of Radio
Deleted Scenes-6, With Optional Director's Commentary
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Mona Lisa Smile
DVD-ROM Extras
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 104:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Michael Tollin

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
Ed Harris
Alfre Woodard
S. Epatha Merkerson
Brent Sexton
Chris Mulkey
Sarah Drew
Riley Smith
Patrick Breen
Debra Winger
Bill Roberson
Kenneth H. Callender
Michael Harding
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music James Horner

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Some films slip under the radar for one reason or another. Often those that miss a cinematic run and go straight to video will often get overlooked, and so it is the case with this 2003 offering, Radio, starring Cuba Gooding Jnr and Ed Harris. It is inspired by the true story of James 'Radio' Kennedy, but I must admit I had never even heard of it when it came up for review.

    It's the mid 1970s in the small South Carolina town of Anderson. The local high school has a very successful football team - the Hanna Yellow Jackets and a much-loved coach, Harold Jones (Ed Harris), a man with steely resolve and an iron will when it comes to dealing with his team. It's early in the season and coach Jones is preparing his new squad for the upcoming first game when off to the side of the practice field he notices a young black man pushing a shopping trolley while listening to a small radio he has tucked inside the child seat. The young man makes regular appearances over the next few days, often watching the practice, but never uttering a word or venturing inside the school grounds. It turns out that this young man is James Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jnr), who suffers from a mild disability. When some of the players play a childish prank on the young man, coach Jones comes down hard on the perpetrators whilst trying to befriend the very quiet and now terrified youngster. Unable to get even the barest of a murmur from him, the coach and his assistant dub him 'Radio' due to his fondness for listening and tinkering with a small transistor set in the coach's office.

    Slowly but surely the friendship between the coach and 'Radio' blossoms, with the latter assisting in practice sessions and on match days as best he can, much to the initial angst of the players and other staff. Of course, most of them are soon won over and in all good movie traditions realise that there is more to life than winning football games. Like all other good movie stories, there must be an antagonist, and in this case it is the father of the best player in both the basketball and football teams. Frank Clay (Chris Mulkey) is the local bank manager, so has a bit of influence around town. He is sure his son Johnny (Riley Smith) is destined for bigger and better things thanks to his sporting prowess. Frank does not want any distraction to this important year for his son, and when he sees coach Jones using a whole lot of his time to keep Radio on track, he becomes increasingly disgruntled and threatens to take action. When local school board officials also begin to wonder why a young man too old to be in school has been wandering around the school halls and making a general nuisance of himself, the principal must also take action.

    Will all of Coach Jones' efforts to help 'Radio' live a more normal life and gain acceptance by the local townsfolk be in vain? I think the answer is pretty obvious after only 20 minutes of watching this incredibly treacly story that is so sweet at times that the wholesome goodness of it almost overwhelms the plot. The acting is probably the aspect that is the most enjoyable. Cuba Gooding has barely any lines, but with a few funny mannerisms and gawky, toothy smiles, manages to convey an awful lot of meaning. Ed Harris is solid and believable in his role as Coach, while the supporting cast which includes Debra Winger as Mrs Jones and Alfre Woodard as the besieged school principal Daniels lend solid assistance. The action scenes during the basketball and football games are also incredibly well filmed, well acted, and best off all very believable. Overall, this was a little too wholesome and family friendly for my liking.

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Transfer Quality


    Overall this is a rather nice transfer that while not being completely eye-popping has basically no faults to identify.

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp and detailed throughout, with no evidence of any edge enhancement. Shadow detail is handled very well and grain is virtually non-existent. There is no low-level noise.

    Colours are not exactly vibrant, with a sort of muted and drab 1970s look taking over much of the palette. There are no problems with bleeding or oversaturation.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts. Being a new film, I hoped there would be few, if any, film artefacts. I was not disappointed, as this is a very clean and near-pristine transfer in that regard, with only a handful of small white specks scattered here and there.

    There are several subtitle options. The English version are mostly accurate and well positioned on screen. I watched the film completely with them on during the director's commentary and found them to be adequate for the job.

    This is a dual-layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs quite early at 38:56. It is noticeable but it occurs at a quiet moment, so the disruption is minimal.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Despite the dialogue-heavy nature of the film on offer here, this is a soundtrack that contains a few surprises. It offers an extremely wide dynamic range, with amongst the lowest and strongest low range I have heard from a film that features very little in the way of crash and bang action.

    There are a total of three soundtracks on the disc. The main choices are either an English or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 effort both encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s. The remaining soundtrack is an English commentary track.

    Dialogue is what most of the film is about and the soundtrack delivers it with prominence. It is well placed in the overall soundtrack. Some of what Cuba Gooding Jnr's character is saying is incredibly difficult to understand, but it's supposed to be. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    The score is by the well-known James Horner and while being a little cheesy and blatant in tugging at the heart-strings (especially in the closing scenes), it remains mostly unobtrusive and subtle enough to complement the on-screen action.

    There is a reasonable amount of surround use throughout. While not an overly crash-boom-bang style of soundtrack, there is enough to keep you interested, mostly during the basketball and football games.

    The major surprise is the subwoofer which kicks in a really decent low end during some of the football games. Not quite to the standard of Any Given Sunday, but it's not far behind.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This is a fairly well-laden release when it comes to extras, and thankfully most add some real value to the overall package.

Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

Dolby Digital Trailer

Audio Commentary - Mike Tollin (Director)

    This is a very good commentary track, where the director Mike Tollin explains many of the decisions made for particular scenes, why aspects of the real-life story were changed, casting decisions, and what he likes and dislikes about the whole thing. A worthy extra.

Featurette - Tuning In On Radio

    A 21:50 comprehensive and reasonably enjoyable bona-fide making-of featurette that contains a little of the self-congratulatory angle, but also contains plenty of behind-the-scenes action and interviews with all the key people involved. Worth a look.

Featurette - Writing Radio

    A brief 12:25 look at the writing of the script, from its genesis as a Sports Illustrated story, through to the completed script ready for filming. Features interviews with the director, writer, and original writer of the Sports Illustrated article on James 'Radio' Kennedy.

Featurette - The 12-Hour Football Games Of Radio

    This is probably the best featurette on the disc. Running for just 9:49, it focuses on just how accurate the filmed football sequences were and the processes that were put in place to ensure the right extras were selected to play the roles of players and the training regime that they were put through to make the whole thing look real. Definitely worth a look.

Deleted Scenes

    There are six deleted scenes in total, all available to play with an optional director's commentary. They run for between 0:22 and 1:51 with a total running time of just 6:24. A couple add little to the story and are easily dispensed with, while I thought another two gave a little more depth to a couple of the characters.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Selected filmographies only for the major cast and crew.

Theatrical Trailer

    A 1:46 trailer that doesn't give away much of the story, but also ramps up the emotional angle of the tale a little too much for my liking. Presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it also is 16x9 enhanced and comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.


    A bonus trailer for the upcoming release Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and Julia Stiles. Runs for 2:21.

DVD-ROM Content

    Throw the disc in a DVD-ROM drive and up pops a window with a couple of links to Columbia Tristar websites, plus a fairly lengthy article. This article is by Gary Smith who was the original author of the Sports Illustrated article that inspired this film. The text here is adapted from his original 1996 article.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Soundtracks and bonus trailers are all that separate the Region 1 and Region 4 discs:

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;

    For English speakers the choices are virtually the same. Unless the French soundtrack is a necessity to you I would recommend the local version.


    Radio certainly makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is a feel-good film. And that's feel good with a rather large capital F, and you can throw in a capital S for saccharine overload too, because at times, the sweetness of the whole thing is in danger of swamping the efforts of the actors. It is certainly the acting that leads the way, while the filmed football and basketball scenes are very well done and incredibly slick. Overall, a good family film, but for anyone looking for anything with a little substance, you'd best look elsewhere.

    The video quality is excellent with no flaws worthy of discussion.

    The audio soundtrack is a corker for a film that is so reliant on dialogue. The deep, wide-reaching low end is especially surprising.

    The extras are comprehensive, including a very good commentary track.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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