Radio Movie Poster Image




Lesson of kindness permeates inspiring true story.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: January 22, 2004
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

What parents need to know

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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie 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.

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?


Radio may be as predictable as a Hallmark card, but it's as heartwarming, too. This 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).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about disabled people they know and how they are treated. They could also talk about why Radio was so important to Coach Jones, and how sometimes, if we cannot correct a mistake we make at the time, 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

Theatrical release date:October 24, 2003
DVD release date:January 27, 2004
Cast:Alfre Woodard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris
Director:Michael Tollin
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language and thematic elements

This review of Radio was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Inspiring football drama brings history to life.
  • Inspiring sports film about a real-life underdog.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byjumpinbini April 9, 2008
Excellent movie. The movie is about Cuba Gooding Jr's character who is developmentally disabled. He was perfectly happy wandering around on the streets, but always stopped by to watch football practice at the local highschool. He loved listening to the radio whether it be a football game being broadcast or music he liked to dance to. The football coach saw his passion for football and decided to make the quality of his life better by taking him under his wing and giving him tasks to do to help out the team. People from the town fought to have him taken out of the school, but Radio had an affect on the kids at school. He was loved by them and the football coach, so much that he sacrificed his coaching job to keep Radio in the school system. Definitely a wonderful feel-good movie. Personally, I like movies that remind you of the important things in life. Keeps you grounded and reminds you that life isn't always so complicated when it comes to doing the right thing. There's nothing else like having someone care about you to make you feel good. I felt that some of the kids in the theater were too young to be there and couldn't grasp the concept, but if their parents were there to explain it to them, then the movie would be rewarding.
Teen, 17 years old Written byjcsoblonde April 9, 2008

a favorite for all time...

this is one of my favorite movies forever....i wanna buy it so bad i just love it! i cried and laughed and it made me really feel with the characters it was just amazing!! it was so sweet too i think that everyone should watch this movie at least once in their life...
Adult Written bywickedgood April 9, 2008

Good lessons here

This was a helpful movie for my 10yo daughter. Seeing how other people live and how disability doesn't make someone less of a person is an important lesson. Cuba Gooding Jr. does an amazing job of acting. The scene where Radio gets taped is a little scary. It is sad to see how some people treat the disabled or people of color. Another good movie with this theme is "The Boys Next Door."


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement