How refreshing to find that, despite its title, Resurrecting the Champ is not another Rocky Balboa but a fine journalism picture along the lines of Shattered Glass. This is the true story of Denver Times sportswriter Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), who, in a career slump, finds his golden ticket in the form of a pitiful homeless man (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to be a formerly high-ranking boxing champion. Kernan gets the story he wants, impressing his Times editor (Alan Alda) and the editor for whom he duplicitously freelances the story (David Paymer) but at an unexpected price. Despite an unnecessarily treacly ending, Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett's screenplay is textbook-perfect. They show a studied reverence for the newspaper industry and how it works, making this as appealing for die-hard news-hounds as the average viewer. Hartnett seems to be getting better with every performance, and it's stunning to watch Jackson slip so effortlessly into a character so far removed from his well-defined persona, his militant baritone replaced with a high-pitched, vulnerable and expletive-free! rasp.
John Thomason writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.