Resurrecting the Champ on DVD

Resurrecting the Champ on DVD. As much as I love the silliness of “40 Days and 40 Nights,” Josh Hartnett does better in more dramatic roles, such as “Black Hawk Down.” Here, his portrayal of struggling sports reporter Erik Kernan is another excellent addition to his resume. And Samuel L. Jackson gives what may be the best performance of his long career as a homeless ex-boxer whose story Kernan wants to chronicle. In the short accompanying featurette, each major actor in the film gives a different description of what this complex movie is about: truth, redemption, father-son relationships, journalism ethics. All of those themes are developed, but my feeling is that the film is about recognizing and accepting who you are as a person. Hartnett’s Kernan thinks he wants to be a star reporter, covering the big stories for his daily paper and basking in the limelight of television in an attempt to escape the professional shadow of his father. Jackson’s boxer wants to be recognized as a former champ, respected for his career and abilities. Through Kernan’s article, they achieve these goals only to discover that those reflections of themselves aren’t accurate representations of who they are inside. Alan Alda, as Kernan’s editor and Kathryn Morris, as his estranged wife, also give good performances in supporting roles.

The film is based on a real article J.R. Moehringer wrote for the Los Angeles Times in the 1990s. Sheila Kern, assistant director of editorial research at The Sacramento Bee, worked with Moehringer on his story and had these comments about the movie’s authenticity. Having worked for a magazine as a researcher myself, I thought the newsroom was reasonably portrayed and I have met several talented, intelligent researchers just as glamorous as the actress Rachel Nichols.

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