When the experts talk about boxing, they measure the fighter not just on his strength and technical ability, but his heart. It’s the immeasurable quality of a boxer that can turn the tide of the bout and rewrite all the stories. Resurrecting the Champ has that heart, as it tells the story of the desires of a newspaper reporter as much as the down-and-out former boxer.
Josh Hartnett expertly portrays Erik, a hard-working journalist for the Denver Times, whose articles merely serve to fill the later pages of the sports section. Erik is the son of a late and great broadcaster, but he has a son of his own, a six-year-old named Teddy. He shares custody of Teddy with his separated wife, Joyce, played conservatively by Kathryn Morris, the cute/sexy actress on CBS’s “Cold Case” that somehow hasn’t broken out to replace Meg Ryan.
On his way home one day, he stops a gang of teens from picking on a homeless man. The bum soon claims he is Bob Satterfield, a boxing legend that has been presumed dead for years. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t his usual loud, MF-bomb dropping character, but is instead a reserved, raspy has-been in one of his best performances to date.
Erik dreams of breaking out of the world of newspaper bylines and upgrading to a prestigious magazine contributor position. When he’s criticized for his quantity over quality approach from the magazine exec, he pitches the moving story of the homeless boxer he met the night before, titling the unwritten story “Resurrecting the Champ.” I personally think he plagiarized the title from a movie of the same name starring himself where he pitches the idea of a story titled… Whoa, that just blew my mind.
Once the magazine article is published, Erik is bombarded with offers and congratulations. This introduces a very miscast cameo by Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher, who sticks out like a black eye amongst a cast loaded with talent. It’s ironic that she plays a Showtime executive, a second rate boxing network, when she’s barely a B-list actress.
Soon the article’s voracity gets called into question and Erik is faced with the realization that his golden opportunity might destroy his career and his struggling family.
Both men wrestle with the concept of legacy, whether it’s their family connections or their professional mark on the world of sports.