Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Radio Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Lesson of kindness permeates inspiring true story.
  • PG
  • 2003
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 25 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters are cruel but learn their lesson. Even though it is set in the South in the decade after the Civil Rights Act was passed, the movie avoids stereotyping the white residents as racist.


Some tense moments; sad death (off-screen).


Radio is sent into the girls' locker room as a cruel prank; nothing is shown.


A couple of bad words.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Radio has a couple of bad words and a sad death (off-screen). In a cruel prank, Radio is sent into the girls' locker room (nothing shown). Characters are cruel but learn their lesson. Even though it is set in the South in the decade after the Civil Rights Act was passed, the movie avoids stereotyping the white residents as racist.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byAdam D. March 20, 2018

More language than "a couple" as listed in category section!

Great movie and a great James Horner soundtrack! It's best for 12 and up I'd say. There is much more language in this than described in content sectio... Continue reading
Adult Written bybrendanc94 April 24, 2016

Very Inspiring Movie

To be honest after watching Radio it was a major influence on me and as a result back in High School I became the manager for the Varsity football team. Yes the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by1119EddieG February 5, 2021

World’s best movie for me

I loved this movie it was amazing and it teaches kindness I LOVE IT!
Teen, 13 years old Written bycatmom67 September 19, 2019

Great message. Sad scenes

I love this movie but if you’ve seen it before there are some science that are a little hard to handle. I think one scene got me watery eyed and a few other peo... Continue reading

What's the story?

RADIO begins in 1976 South Carolina, where small town high school football is very serious business. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays Radio, described by his mother as "just like everyone else, but a little slower." He pushes a shopping cart around and barely speaks. When members of the local high school football team mistreat him, the coach (Ed Harris) invites Radio to watch a practice. Soon, Radio is helping out, and with the coach's encouragement, he begins to interact with people and eventually becomes an "honorary" student. But complications arise when others in the community view Radio's involvement as a liability and a distraction. All is happily resolved in time for the inevitable "We learned more from him than he ever learned from us" speech and the montage showing the real Radio still leading the team onto the field, 25 years later.

Is it any good?

This film may be as predictable as a Hallmark card, but it's as heartwarming, too. Radio is a nice, old-fashioned family movie about the importance of kindness. The characters learn that some things are more important than being smart. The audience learns that that lesson can apply to movies as well as people.

It's always a little too easy to have minority or disabled characters in movies serve as saint-like or magical creatures who teach others how to be more authentic, yet this film handles the challenge better than most. Harris and Gooding give their characters depth and decency to provide some grounding for the story and keep it from getting too sugary. But they really have to carry the entire movie. Debra Winger appears in the thankless understanding-wife role (though she does carry a copy of Betty Friedan's revolutionary Feminine Mystique through one scene).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about disabled people they know and how they are treated. Do you think Radio was a respectful, accurate someone with a disability?

  • Why was Radio was so important to Coach Jones? If we cannot correct a mistake we make at the time, how we can find a way to use what we have learned to prevent another mistake in the future

  • They could talk about how the coach decided what his priorities really were and about how Radio showed that he understood some things better than people who thought they were smarter than he was.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love inspiring stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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