Resurrecting The Champ

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


For all his ambition, Erik (Josh Hartnett) is a Denver sports reporter fast on his way to being yesterday's news. His writing lacks personality, and his editor, Metz (Alan Alda), is unwilling to pull him off the boxing beat. To make matters worse, his personal life is down for the count. Recently separated from his wife, Erik tries to maintain his good standing with their young son. When he rescues a homeless man, "the champ" (Samuel L. Jackson), from some local hoods, he learns that the destitute man is actually a former boxing champion thought to be long dead, and it appears that Erik has stumbled onto a knockout story.

Rod Lurie proves that he is an intricate storyteller here, discovering in the material a range of complex emotions and poignancy. Bolstered by subtle performances from Hartnett and Jackson, the film asks what it means to be a man, not a champ. It grapples with relationships between fathers and sons and taps into a core component of masculine self-deception—an urge to misrepresent. Hamstrung by his own sense of failure, Erik tries so hard to appear special in his son's eyes that he lies about being friends with star athletes. But in befriending the champ, who has his own burdens, Erik takes steps to come to terms with his family, the ghost of his father, and his own capacity for forgiveness.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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