A struggling young sportswriter (Hartnett) needs a scoop that will catapult him into the big time. He stumbles across a homeless man (Jackson) claiming to be a boxer who could have been a contender. (The derelict affects the shuffling walk of a pugilist perpetually heading into a ring, so he must be legit, right?) If the reporter can turn the life story of this down-and-out hero into a primo article, he gets a shot at a Pulitzer; meanwhile, the former prizefighter is able to hold his head up high once again. “This sounds like it’s going to be a very sad story,” says the scribe’s impossibly cute prepubescent kid. “No,” he reassures the moppet. “It’ll be a hopeful story.” Sigh. Here we go again.
Just when you think the tidal wave of sweet-science sap has crested, Rod Lurie (The Last Castle) takes a dive into journalistic ethics, which only makes things worse: In addition to the clichés of inspirational sports parables, we’ve now got to put up with punch-drunk platitudes about morality, winning and the importance of familial bonding. The pummeling that Resurrecting the Champ unleashes on heartstrings in its last rounds is too painful for words; given the option, we’d have preferred actual body blows.