by Chris Parry
Nothing spoils a good story like a hack writer, a hack director and a hack actor with big, fake teeth. But when the story is only so-so to begin with, well you're destined for a place I like to call cinema hell. Radio is like a Cinema Hell tourism ad. All it needed was a little Freddie Prinze Jr, maybe Matthew Lillard in a thong... oh wait! That was director Michael Tollin's last movie, Summer Catch, which I guess answers the question "how does a guy get the Cinema Hell Lifetime Achievement Award"?Before we get too far into this review, a note of caution is required. As those who have read my work previously may already know, movies about the mentally challenged are not my favorite thing. It's not that I have anything against the mentally challenged, I just get really annoyed when I see a non-mentally challenged guy try to play one. For mine, it's like Matthew Lillard putting on blackface makeup and appearing in a Spike Lee movie as 'Coco'. You'd have riots in the streets, but for some reason we think that curling a left hand backwards, putting in some comedy fake teeth and saying things like, "Where mah pie!" isn't insulting to the spaz crowd.
"It's Remember The Titans, only with no football, no racism... and a tard."
"Oh no! He said 'Spaz'! For shame!" - Bah, get over it. If you're fat, I'll call you Jumbo. If you're a midget I'll call you Stilts. If you're a tard, I'll call you Spaz. Equal rights, you know? If you want to call me Cracker or Convict or Unibrow... hey, knock yourself out, it's open season.
So Cuba Gooding Jr pulls the Fake Spaz routine that usually garners actors an Oscar nomination. Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman, you could even put Tim Robbins in there for Mystic River - these guys have all supped of the Fake Tard cup and been bestowed great honors for having done so. (Funny, when I used to do it in high school, I'd get a week suspension. Sean Penn does it and he's walking the red carpet. There's no justice in this freaking world.) In contrast, the only people I can think of who have played Fake Helmet-Kids and NOT been nominated for Oscars?
* Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi, from The Other Sister.
* The guy nobody can remember because he sucked, from Gigli.
* Cuba Gooding Jr, in Radio.
Why did they all miss out on the charity nod? Because they SUCKED! If Giovanni Rbisi ever walks down the red carpet, I swear it shall attack him. If Juliette Lewis ever stepped on to the Oscar stage, Jesus would have to strike us all dead, having finally come to the conclusion that, "You know, maybe humans were a mistake after all." If the douchebag from Gigli was ever even given a good table at Spago, the gates of hell would open and we'd all spend eternity having our eyeballs pricked with needles and drenched in lemon juice.
But it gets worse - when an actual tard was given a job playing a tard in The United States of Leland, what happened? Parents of tards sent out petitions and boycotted the film! What? Are you kidding me! Finally, after all these years, Hollywood allows a guy afflicted with this condition to play an actual guy afflicted with this condition and that's BAD? "Why yes, Unibrow, it's awful! As a parent of a tard, I don't want to see tards playing themselves, because it's exploitative. Rather, I want to see a guy who flashed his ass eight times during Boat Trip play my son." You know, sometimes I suspect that maybe it is genetic, you know what I'm saying?
So Cuba Gooding Jr (a Cuba that not even Fidel Castro could love) is Radio, a small town South Carolina tardboy who wheels his shopping cart around town and occasionally stops to watch the local football team practice. One day he swipes a football, which leads nine of the team to tie him up and terrorize him in a shed. That is, until the upstanding coach Jones (Ed Harris) finds out, frees Radio and punishes the team with the absolutely heinous and sadistic punishment of... uh... extra training. That'll learn 'em, mm-hmm.
Meanwhile Radio becomes a mascot for the team, and then the school, and then the town, until eventually everyone who has ever come in contact with him for two seconds wants to hump him. Despite his teeth. All of which leads to some people deciding he must be stopped, and beating him within an inch of his life... oh wait, no, that doesn't happen. They instead direct a torrent of racist abuse towards him and... no, wait, that doesn't happen either.
Oh! I've got it. They send him into the girls' locker room. Bam, there's your movie. Tard makes good, gets sent into girls locker room, star player's dad decides he needs to go, big speech in a barbershop, the end.
Now, if it seems like I gave away spoilers there, you should know that I really didn't. If you can't see that this film ends with one of those stock standard big speech scenes where the good guy turns the town around with his Mr Smtih Goes to Washington charm, and everyone goes home feeling good about themselves, then you have never seen a movie that has ever featured a tard. They always have the big courtroom scene, or the big hospital scene, or the big... barbershop... scene? Uhh...
Cuba Gooding Jr certainly does make a great tardo, but the real problem with that fact is that I'm not talking about his performance in this film. I'm talking about his decision to appear in Men of Honor, Boat Trip, Instinct, Chill Factor, Pearl Harbor, Snow Dogs, the Fighting Temptations, Lightning Jack... Man, so many fish, so few bullets.
Radio is awful from start to finish. Of sure, it isn't 'painful' as such, but it really isn't anything. The entire story seems to be a case of 'oh look, someone was nice to the tarder and he became less tarded, and then someone complained, and he cried, but then it was all fixed. Feel joy... now.' And I hate that kind of crap. It's red meat for the morons. Yes, that's right, I'm saying people who love this movie are morons. Absolute thickheads. Complete tools. And if you don't believe me, look at the user ratings below this review and notice how every single 5 star rating has a comment with a spelling mistake. Mm-hmm."Show me the money back!"
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8274&reviewer=1
originally posted: 11/03/04 08:08:48