Hartnett, as reporter Erik Kernan, is on the boxing beat at the Denver Times, living in the shadow of the outstanding newspaper work from his late father. His editor, Metz (Alan Alda), makes his ambition more of a struggle, explaining that his writing has no zest to it.
With Jackson as a grayish dreadlocked homeless man, nicknamed Champ, some may find a connection to Kasi Lemmons's The Caveman's Valentine. Instead of piano-playing, the vagrant that Erik happens to meet refers to himself as a boxing legend, a heavyweight contender, once a sparring mate with Rocky Marciano.
The relationship that develops between Champ and Erik nourishes a story that may remind some of the more dramatically nuanced Shattered Glass.
Lurie's somewhat robust direction is diminished as the latter portion focuses too much on Erik's distant wife (Kathryn Morris) and young son (Dakota Goyo).
But, David Paymer provides decent support as a magazine editor and Jackson is fine as the unfettered, yet battered Champ. This flawed adaptation from an L.A. times magazine story can be seen nevertheless as a crowdpleaser.