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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Erik is a sports writer for the Denver Times. He longs to write front-page stories on high-profile sporting events. Instead he's saddled with reporting on obscure boxing matches that nobody cares about and that get buried deep in the sports section. He argues that he can be a top-notch reporter and can crank out articles like a machine, but Metz, his editor, notes that that's part of the problem: his work has all the heart of a machine.

The young writer is desperate to make it, though. He'll do anything to live up to his sports announcer father's sterling reputation. He even goes so far as to lie to his 6-year-old son, Teddy, about having sports-star friends just to convince somebody that he's important.

One night, Erik comes upon a homeless guy being beaten by three young men who are out for some misguided macho kicks. After the guys run off, the grizzled and hurting old fella thanks Erik for his help and introduces himself as Champ, a nickname that he got when he was a heavyweight boxer in his youth. Erik's interest is piqued when he finds out that the man claims to be Bob Satterfield, a Golden Gloves winner who almost made it to the heavyweight championship. Everyone thought he was dead, but here he is walking the back alleys of Denver with a shopping cart full of trash.

So Erik gives Champ money and beer while eliciting details about the old boxer's ring history and personal life. All the pieces seem to fit. And what a story. The ambitious reporter manipulates his way around his editor and lands the boxer's tale on the front page of the Times' Sunday magazine—making himself an overnight sports writing sensation who's instantly tapped to interview big-name boxers for Showtime.

But as he steps up to his dream-come-true, Erik is knocked flat with a massive moral uppercut.


Positive Elements

Erik (and others) consistently lie to gain respect. But he (and others) learn that those lies cause a loss of self-respect and hurt everyone around them. So they end up admitting to and apologizing for their wrongs. Indeed, Resurrecting the Champ is all about the ethics of honesty, and how your grasp on this moral issue shapes the world around you.

It's when he sees the ramifications of his deceit deeply hurt his own son that Erik is most convicted. It's by seeing himself through Teddy's eyes that he gathers the strength and courage to begin righting wrongs. He swallows his pride and apologizes to Teddy—who gratefully forgives him.

Erik's wife, Joyce, from whom he is separated, helps him, too, pointing him toward upright and honest choices, no matter the cost. She says to him, "You need to behave as if Teddy was watching." They give their marriage another try after she sees him begin to make those right choices.

Similarly, Erik's boss encourages him to "recognize your problems and fix them."

Bob Satterfield Jr. makes every possible effort to heap praise on his boxer father. He says, "He was a great father. I'd like people to know that." After Erik does something nice for Champ, the old boxer says to him, "I hope that one day, God willing, your son does for you what you did for me in there."

Spiritual Content

A boxer whom Erik interviews gives God the credit for how his life turned out. Speaking of Champ's situation, the man says, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Yet another fighter, when talking about a victory, says, "I want to thank Jesus." A passing remark is made about "naive" people who "think they can pray their way out of a tsunami."

Sexual Content

Bikini-clad round card girls appear during boxing matches. Joyce shows some cleavage. A Showtime representative wears a form-fitting, low-cut dress. She also invites Erik up to her hotel suite "for a drink." He declines. A co-worker of Erik's wears a somewhat revealing tank top in a bar. When she moves in to be a bit more intimate with him, he backs off.

Violent Content

In several fight scenes (both in the past and present), boxers pummel each other viciously. During one, blood drips on Erik's paper as the loser collapses to the canvas.

Out of the ring, young men gang up on the elderly Champ in a back alley, hitting him in the face and body, and throwing him around. One of these men returns on another day for another "round." Champ manages to knock the punk out, but in the course of the fight he's seriously injured. Champ is seen staggering in pain, and there's a raw scrap on his brow.

Champ and Erik angrily fight, and Erik gets a black eye when Champ coldcocks him.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is spit out once in addition to at least 10 exclamations of the s-word. "A--," "h---," "d--n" and "b--ch" add a total of 20 or 25 more crude words to the mix. God's name is combined with "d--n" once; Jesus' is profaned four times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

On several occasions, Erik buys beer and other forms of alcohol for Champ, using it to lubricate the man's tongue so he'll get a juicier story. During one of these interviews, Champ appears inebriated and we see a group of empty bottles sitting in front of him. When Erik takes Champ to a boxing match, another reporter gives the old man his beer.

Erik also gets drunk with Champ once as they share a bottle in an alley. Erik drinks in a bar a couple times. He's joined for drinks by friends from the paper during a celebration. And he drinks scotch with the Showtime rep.

Champ smokes throughout the film. An old fight manager also takes a drag or two.

Other Negative Elements

Champ blasts a Puerto Rican fighter with a racial slur. Metz slams "chick" reporters when he roughly tells Erik not to get weepy on him. Erik shoots his boss's remark right back at him later.


In 1997, J.R. Moehringer wrote a story about "Battling Bob Satterfield" for the Los Angeles Times magazine. It was the story of a homeless man who at one point in his life could have been a fight away from heavyweight champion of the world. The drama of how Moehringer got the story and what happened after it was published captivated Phoenix Pictures' Mike Medavoy, who bought the film rights shortly afterwards.

While the big-screen script can be a tad slow at times—as it struggles to decide whether it wants to decry the pitfalls of ill-gotten gain, create a sports character study or examine the inside workings of journalism—it speaks very clearly about the things that are most valuable in life. (And they are not journalistic fame or center-ring glory.)

We're shown the benefits of family, honesty and upright choices as juxtaposed against the destructive lie of getting ahead at all costs. The movie even slaps aside the falsehood that moral compromise is justified when you're doing it for "the right reasons." We're told "you ought to be better than that," and offered statements such as, "The lies that come from love can devastate as much as those that come from malice." We're also given healthy advice to take a chance on forgiveness.

The flick features a balanced cast who draw you into the emotional story. Josh Hartnett, who plays Erik, comes across as studiously low key. But Samuel L. Jackson delivers a knock-out punch. His portrayal of Champ is perfectly pitched, from his rusty hinge of a voice to his broken-down-pro shuffle to his punch-drunk flinch.

Bob. Weave. Bob. Weave. Stumble. Fall. Resurrecting the Champ is relatively light on its feet except when it comes to free-flowing booze and profanity. It's typical Hollywood "make-it-real" filler that just doesn't need to be there. All it does is trip up this hard-hitter.

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Objectionable Content

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Plot Summary

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