REIGN OVER ME
*1/2 (out of 5)
March 23, 2007
Adam Sandler as CHARLIE FINEMAN
Don Cheadle as ALAN JOHNSON
Jada Pinkett Smith as JANEANE JOHNSON
Liv Tyler as ANGELA OAKHURST
Saffron Burrows as DONNA REMAR
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Mike Binder
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In 2006, Hollywood decided it was time to make movies about 9/11. We had two films hit the screens last year about this terrible day – one pretty decent (“World Trade Center”) and the other a masterpiece (“United 93”). Now, it seems that Hollywood found it to be the right time to deal with the issues surrounding 9/11.
“Reign Over Me” follows a dentist named Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle), who has it all but is happy with life. One day, he runs into an old college roommate named Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler). Alan hasn’t seen Charlie since before September 11, 2001 when Charlie’s wife and kids were killed on the plane from Boston.
Charlie is a mess, spending his nights playing video games, banging on drums and eating Chinese food. He has no wants for money because the 9/11 settlements keep him solvent. However, he is exhibiting some pretty severe signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s clear he isn’t dealing with the death of his family very well.
As a newly rekindled friend, Alan both covets Charlie’s free lifestyle and pities him at the same time. Using his influence, Alan tries to find help for Charlie, but with Charlie’s unpredictability, help may not be the best thing for him.
I’m not an Adam Sandler hater, but I am getting a bit tired of him trying to do his serious films. Like the comedians that preceded him, Sandler is trying to launch a dramatic career like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. The problem is that while Sandler isn’t a terrible actor, he isn’t a great one, either. There’s a reason his biggest success comes when he plays the idiot.
His performance in “Reign Over Me” really doesn’t fall that far from the tree he usually climbs. His character of Charlie Fineman is a soft-spoken and somewhat strange man, but he erupts into fits of Sandler-esque rage whenever his wife and daughters are mentioned. So ultimately, this isn’t that far of a stretch for him.
I wish the Academy would just give the guy an Oscar, and maybe he’d stop making these attempts at drama. Go back to making dick and fart jokes with characters you’d see in Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore.
“Reign Over Me” is directed by Mike Binder, a former comedian who has tackled some pretty heavy subjects in his films. Most recently, he gave us the wretched “The Upside of Anger,” which juggled death and alcoholism as its main themes. Binder manages to infuse a decent amount of humor in his films, but they could hardly be called comedies.
While the acting is pretty decent in this movie, with Cheadle carrying the strongest burden, I really couldn’t get into the movie. Too many things happened that either made no sense or were too contrived for this otherwise down-to-earth story. There’s a strange side-plot where Alan is pursued by a hottie patient, but this seems more at place in a Mike Binder fantasy from his show “The Mind of a Married Man” rather than a serious drama.
When I finally reached the end of the movie, I had an overwhelming of “What’s the point?” There’s a love for psychotherapy in this movie, which isn’t a huge surprise coming from Binder, but I don’t buy the theory that therapy necessarily makes us better. If you don’t believe me, look at Woody Allen. That guy’s been in therapy all his life, and he’s a frickin’ mess.
I’m not sure what the point of “Reign Over Me” is, and I really didn’t like the film enough to spend the time to figure it out.