[Screen It]


(2003) (Ed Harris, Cuba Gooding, Jr.) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
None None Heavy *Minor None
Mild None None None Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Minor Heavy Moderate Mild

Drama: A high school football coach must deal with community criticism for taking a slightly mentally handicapped teen under his wing and trying to help him find a place in their school and community.
It's 1976 in Anderson, S.C. and Coach Harold Jones (ED HARRIS) is preparing his high school football team for another season with the help of assistant coach Honeycutt (BRENT SEXTON). His wife, Linda (DEBRA WINGER), realizes that means he'll have little time for her or their daughter, Mary Helen (SARAH DREW), who's a junior and cheerleader at the same school.

After every game, the coach shows up the local barbershop where the locals discuss the effort and contemplate the strategy for the next contest. Banker Frank Clay (CHRIS MULKEY), whose son Johnny (RILEY SMITH) is on the team, has a complaint. He isn't pleased that Jones has taken a local boy, James Robert Kennedy (CUBA GOODING JR.), under his wing and seems a bit distracted.

After Johnny and some of the other players abducted and taunted the slightly mentally handicapped teen - nicknamed "Radio" for his interest in such electronics - Jones has allowed him to join the team as an assistant and even attend class.

Since he's not an official student, however, that doesn't sit well with Principal Daniels (ALFRE WOODARD) or the local school board, but Jones feels that they can't ignore Radio. That's particularly true since he has little education and a single mother, Maggie (S. EPATHA MERKERSON), who is always working long hours at the hospital.

As the school year progresses and the football season comes to an end, Jones does what he can to temper the criticism of his efforts to help the young man find a place in their school and community.

Those who are fans of someone in the cast, stories of underdogs or films about high school football may just be interested in it.
For mild language and thematic elements.
  • ED HARRIS plays the local high school football coach who takes Radio under his wing and tries to help him despite criticism and objections from others. He uses some profanity and comes to learn what's important in his life by dealing with the teen.
  • CUBA GOODING JR. plays the local teen who's slightly mentally handicapped but otherwise friendly, happy and enthusiastic about being involved with the football team and school. He briefly uses profanity in repeating what his coach says.
  • BRENT SEXTON plays Jones' assistant coach on the football team who supports his decisions regarding Radio.
  • ALFRE WOODARD plays the school principal who has her reservations about allowing Radio on the football staff and in her school (he's not an official student).
  • S. EPATHA MERKERSON plays Radio's single mother who's initially cautious about Jones' interest in helping her son.
  • DEBRA WINGER plays the coach's wife who wishes he could spend as much time with his family as he does with Radio and the football program.
  • SARAH DREW plays their high school daughter who wishes the same.
  • RILEY SMITH plays one of the high school football players who picks on Radio and initially isn't happy to have him around. He also talks back to his coach and principal.
  • CHRIS MULKEY plays his banker father who criticizes the coach for helping Radio who he sees as a distraction to the team's success. He uses some profanity.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a quick look at the content found in this drama that's been rated PG. Profanity consists of at least 14 "s" words, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while a few smoke.

    Thematic elements include loss of a parent, other tense family material and peoples' reactions to those who are "slower" than others. An instance of imitative behavior is present, while some students abduct and bind a mentally handicapped teen, some hard football contact occurs, and a few characters are briefly manhandled.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • None.
  • None.
  • A white driver refers to Radio (who's black) as "boy."
  • A player calls Radio "Einstein" and "dummy" (mocking what he thinks is his lack of intelligence).
  • Coach Jones arrives at practice to discover that various team players have locked Radio inside a shed (with his feet and hands taped together) and are throwing balls at the shed, terrifying Radio (the coach later punishes the players).
  • Frank progressively develops a bad attitude toward Coach Jones and questions his motives and decisions (because he wants his son's team to have a winning season).
  • Coach Jones gets various disapproving looks from people regarding his interaction and presence with Radio.
  • A new cop spots Radio giving out unwrapped gifts to neighbors' homes and believes he's stolen the goods. He then slams Radio down against his cruiser and cuffs him.
  • Johnny sets up Radio (as a mean joke), saying that a female coach needs him in the girls' locker room (saying that it's empty). It's not, and Radio is embarrassed as he walks in on the girls (we only see a fleeting image of them).
  • Johnny has a bad attitude for picking on Radio and talking back to Coach Jones and Principal Daniels.
  • Frank is upset that his son has had a change of heart toward Radio.
  • A few scenes where Radio looks quite frightened (for boys picking on him and being thrown in jail) might be a bit disturbing to some viewers, but they are not otherwise frightening.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "That was a chickensh*t call," "You chickensh*t," "Oh, sh*t," "What the hell is going on out there?" "You know me a hell of a lot better than that," "I sure as hell will," "You're damn right I do," "Oh hell" and "Who's been feeding you this crap?"
  • Radio rides down a road inside a shopping cart, using a long stick as his rudder and brake.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 14 "s" words, 10 hells, 2 craps, 2 damns and 1 use of "Jesus."
  • The coach's wife drops a non-explicit line of innuendo about what she wants her husband to bring to her.
  • We briefly see Radio in his boxers as he gets dressed.
  • A few characters briefly smoke (one with a cigar).
  • Honeycutt may be chewing tobacco and spitting the juice out into a cup (we see the later, but can't really tell about the former).
  • Coach Jones' obsession with his football team and then Radio means he leaves little time for his daughter, a point that Linda brings to his attention.
  • We hear that Radio's father died some time ago.
  • Mary Helen tells her dad that there have been plenty of chances for him to talk to her, but that he just hasn't taken them (thus, she's disappointed with him).
  • We hear that a young man's mother died of a heart attack and see him grieving over the news.
  • The true life story upon which this film is based.
  • People who have varying degrees of mental handicaps.
  • Standing up for what you believe in despite criticism from others.
  • Being a coach and teacher.
  • A white driver refers to Radio (who's black) as "boy."
  • The other veiled (and never formally addressed) racism in the film.
  • We hear that a young man's mother died of a heart attack and see him grieving over the news.
  • Product placement in films.
  • Coach Jones arrives at practice to discover that various team players have locked Radio inside a shed (with his feet and hands taped together) and are throwing balls at the shed, terrifying Radio. Radio then trips as he flees the scene once Coach Jones releases him (the coach later punishes the players).
  • There's some rough hitting and tackling in some of the football games.
  • A new cop spots Radio giving out unwrapped gifts to neighbors' homes and believes he's stolen the goods. He then slams Radio down against his cruiser and cuffs him.
  • Coach Jones pushes Johnny back against a display case while mad at him for picking on Radio.
  • We see that Radio has torn up his house after receiving some disturbing news (we just see the aftermath).

  • Reviewed October 18, 2003 / Posted October 24, 2003

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