Resurrecting the Champ

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Resurrecting the Champ Movie Poster Image
Reporter's ethics get KO'd in bland boxing tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 111 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie has a thematic focus on ambition, deceit, and disappointing role models; Erik learns a lesson after he has hurt several people. Some racist comments from the Champ.


Frequent boxing scenes are filled with hard-hitting, noisy, sometimes slow-motion violence, with blood spurting, flesh splitting, and bodies falling. A group of kids beats up the Champ in an alley, kicking and hitting him for fun (bloody injuries are visible). Erik hits a computer screen in an angry moment.


Girls in bikinis hold up placards between boxing rounds; producer appears in a slinky dress, trying to seduce Erik into a "torrid affair" (he turns her down).


At least one "f--k," plus other ringside/sports profanity ("s--t," "ass," "hell," "damn," "son of a bitch," "screw up"). The Champ refers to a Hispanic boxer as "the spicky kid" more than once.


Advertisements for Showtime programs on office wall (Weeds, Dexter).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Champ smokes cigarettes repeatedly; he also drinks beer (sometimes from a brown paper bag). Other social drinking in bars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sports drama revolves around boxing. Bloody fight scenes take place both in the present and in black-and-white flashbacks and involve violent, noisy, fast-cut footage. The Champ is homeless; he appears dirty, tattered, and repeatedly drunk, and he smokes a lot of cigarettes. The movie focuses on lying and telling stories to enhance your career and history, as well as tense relationships between fathers and sons. A couple of women appear in seductive outfits and poses. Language includes one use of "f--k," plus more colorful "ringside" language.

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What's the story?

In RESURRECTING THE CHAMP, Erik (Josh Hartnett) -- a staff writer for the Denver Times -- wants to be a sports reporter. But he lives in the long shadow of his father, a much-admired and now-dead sports journalist. He's convinced that others don't see his talent: His estranged wife Joyce (Kathryn Morris) is a successful columnist at the paper, and his editor, Metz (Alan Alda), tells him that his copy is unimpressive ("a lot of typing but not much writing"). Moreover, his young son, Teddy (Dakota Goya), hopes that someday his daddy will introduce him to his famous friends, like Shaq or John Elway (who appears as himself, briefly). Unfortunately, Erik has stretched that truth a bit: He doesn't actually know the former Broncos quarterback. Erik sees a chance to make it all work out when he meets the Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), a beaten-down former boxer who's now living on the street and regularly getting beaten up by local kids. Erik buys him a beer and proposes to tell the Champ's story for the Times magazine.

Is it any good?

The film addresses interesting issues, but Resurrecting the Champ tends to reduce complex answers to simple-seeming melodrama. (It doesn't help that Hartnett isn't a terribly convincing performer.) Erik is in a gnarly business, where stories and truth aren't always different: "The one thing people don't want is the truth," explains Metz by way of a lecture. Because truth is too ambiguous, they want heroic tales or tragedies, moral lessons and judgments. The problem is, this movie uses the Champ's complications to get at Erik's simplicity.

"A writer, like a boxer," Erik says early on, "must stand alone. Having your work published, like fighting in a ring, puts your talent on display ... Sometimes the results can be disastrous." This not only sets up a disaster in the plot but also establishes Erik's notion that he has talent -- at least temporarily. These themes will be familiar to viewers of writer-director Rod Lurie's other films, like The Contender, which was set in the world of Washington, D.C. politics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethical compromises Erik makes in order to pursue his ambitions. How often do you think that happens in the world of media and journalism? Are journalists always objective, or do they have their own agendas? What's their responsibility to their audience? How much of what you see and read in the media can you believe? Families can also discuss the movie's father-son relationships. Is Erik trying too hard to live up to his father's reputation? How do his lies complicate his own relationship with little Teddy?

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