Resurrecting the Champ (2007)

Watchable

Content written by Tony Macklin. Originally published on September 6, 2007 in Fayetteville Free Weekly.

Resurrecting the Champ is a movie I was going to recommend. It was contrived and dopey, but it seemed like pleasant entertainment. Then came the terrible last ten minutes when it casts itself on the rancid junk heap of hokum.

Resurrecting the Champ is one of those films that speak a lot about "truth," but have no idea what it is.

I should have known better. The director of Resurrecting the Champ is Rod Lurie, who never met a platitude he didn't embrace. Lurie previously ruined the promise of The Contender (2000) obliterating its truth.

One of the two screenwriters is Allison Burnett, who is credited with Michael Bortman. Burnett has destroyed two movies in two months -- Resurrecting the Champ and the upcoming Feast of Love. He is banal.

Resurrecting the Champ is very loosely based on an article by J. R. Moehringer in the LA Times Magazine about his experience with former boxer Battlin' Bob Satterfield.

Erik (Josh Hartnett) is an undistinguished journalist with the Denver Post, who meets a homeless man who says he is Bob Satterfield, an ex-boxer who once was a world contender.

They strike up a relationship, which leads to Erik's writing a dazzling cover story for the paper's magazine.

Meanwhile Erik is separated from his wife (Cold Case's Kathryn Morris) and is trying to impress his six-year old son (Dakota Goyo). This soap opera potboiler at least keeps its lid on, until it boils over in a wretched conclusion.

The dialogue by Burnett, et al. is laughable. Erik says to his wife, "You haven't had your son cleaved from you." Cleaved?

At times Satterfield's dialogue shows him as being sharp-witted -- talking about "irony" and "good exit lines." It's about as authentic as Will Shakespeare being a boxer.

What is most annoying about Resurrecting the Champ is that it could be a good movie, but Lurie and his fellow gremlins turn it into bathos in their feeble attempts to be profound. They should stick to illusions of competence.

Samuel L. Jackson glides through his performance as the homeless former boxer. He is all feints and high-voiced bon mots.

Josh Hartnett is slow and stolid. He always seems to be acting underwater. He seldom comes up for air.

The idea of journalism in Resurrecting the Champ isn't even Journalism 101. Unlike Stephen Glass in Shattered Glass, Erik has no reputation, so the lack of fact checking is ludicrous. His plucky assistant Polly (Alias' Rachel Nichols) does all the work, and she seems capable of finding more sources. She doesn't. Lurie and Burnett should have gone back to their sources.

Erik's article draws the attention of television's Showtime, and Erik gets a try-out covering a fight.

My friend Al Bernstein is an actual boxing analyst on Showtime. (I'm on Al's Coast to Coast national radio show every Saturday night doing movie reviews.)

Little did I know until I saw Resurrecting the Champ that Al has found the Holy Grail on Showtime. It's that special.

I also didn't know that his boss at Showtime is a sexy vixen. Teri Hatcher plays Showtime honcho Andrea Flac. Get it? Oh, that flack Allison Burnett!

Rod Lurie and Allison Burnett completely blow Resurrecting the Champ at the end, because they want to strut and preen. They want to be heavyweights.

They're lightweights.


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