Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett), an ambitious, mediocre sportswriter, is journalism’s laziest and most self-pitying practitioner. Not that the makers of Resurrecting the Champ think we’ll notice, especially with Samuel L. Jackson throwing fancy punches as the homeless boxer Erik decides is his ticket to self-validation — and a good feature story — and Hartnett’s unvarying earnestness. The writer discovers the wreck who calls himself the Champ in an alley — battered, drunk, and telling tales of former glory. So eager is he to prove himself to his estranged, more accomplished wife (Kathryn Morris), his moppety 6-year-old-son (Dakota Goyo), and the ghost of the famous sportscaster dad who wasn’t around when he was a kid that Erik skips the small stuff. Like fact-checking.
Adding their own heavy-handed editorializing to the gist of a 1997 magazine piece by J.R. Moehringer on which the movie is based, screenwriters Michael Bortman and Allison Burnett and cudgel-swinging director Rod Lurie are not content, though, to make this a story of two imperfect men. Instead, speechy monologues on the responsibilities of journalism, the particular evil of infotainment (represented by Teri Hatcher as a she-devil from Showtime), and the gooey sanctity of the bond between fathers and sons all but nullify Jackson’s zesty performance.