Resurrecting the champ is so full of lessons that it takes focus to untangle all of them. First there is the lesson of the importance of doing good work. The protagonist, sport journalist, is missing out on this one and learns the hard way, because it (almost?) destroys his career. Then there is the importance of loving your family. He vehemently cares for his son and wants to get back with his separated wife as well. His intentions are honest and come from love, but his actions to gain his family back are not guided enough form the heart. I felt like yelling himself throughout the movie: be true to your heart and yourself otherwise you have no chance. Thus the question of integrity arose. Does he have any? How far is willing to go to get ahead? This is the question he is struggling with in his better moments of which there are not enough.
The next question is gullibility. He is willing to believe what he wants to believe without looking for confirmation. This becomes his fate. I cannot resist sharing that this week I had an “aha moment” when I realized that the Swift probably made up the name Gulliver form the word gullible. It is probably obvious to literary critics, but I was rather happy with myself when it occurred to me. So, who is gullible here? The reporter, the system that created him or the viewers. I would say all of the above.
Right now I do not want to into the father-son dynamic between the journalist and his deceased father. The issue there is whose expectations you want to live by and how/why is it important to surpass your father(‘s). Instead I’d rather explore the idea of exploitation. On one hand the swanky reporter exploits the homeless man (portrayed terrifically by Samuel L. Jackson) to further his career. There is a very clear class separation between them in terms of education, income and lifestyle. Another kind of exploitation could be discovered if you are looking between athletes (Jackson played an old ex-boxer) and white-collar workers.
This leads me to the third area which was not explicitly expounded in the movie: race issues. The white journalist wants to build his career using the story of a black boxer. The boxers’ managers were also white people in the past without exception. I am not sure whether these were intentional assertion or the movie makers were just following the original, true story the movie is based upon. Either way it is hard to imagine the situation with reversing the colors of the main people. The fact that it is unimaginable speaks to the existence of racism in our society. To put it another way the film questions whether and how sports—usually thought as one of the few means black people can get out of poverty– work. If you are not good enough you’ll end up on the streets anyway.
I would gladly watch the movie again to find more nuances and enjoy Jackson’s antics.