Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Resurrecting the Champ

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM

How refreshing to find that, despite its title, Resurrecting the Champ is not another Rocky Balboa but a fine journalism picture along the lines of Shattered Glass. This is the true story of Denver Times sportswriter Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), who, in a career slump, finds his golden ticket in the form of a pitiful homeless man (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to be a formerly high-ranking boxing champion. Kernan gets the story he wants, impressing his Times editor (Alan Alda) and the editor for whom he duplicitously freelances the story (David Paymer) — but at an unexpected price. Despite an unnecessarily treacly ending, Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett's screenplay is textbook-perfect. They show a studied reverence for the newspaper industry and how it works, making this as appealing for die-hard news-hounds as the average viewer. Hartnett seems to be getting better with every performance, and it's stunning to watch Jackson slip so effortlessly into a character so far removed from his well-defined persona, his militant baritone replaced with a high-pitched, vulnerable — and expletive-free! — rasp.

John Thomason writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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