Movie review: “Reign over me”

Tonight we saw “Reign over me” on DVD.

It stars Adam Sandler in a role that involves no slapstick, which was a new thing for me. Generally I wouldn’t touch his movies with a bargepole because American slapstick is right down at the bottom of my”gotta see” movie ladder, huddled closely together with South African slapstick and slash-horror flicks, and the worse kind of sci-fi.

However, he was surprisingly good in his role as Charlie Fineman, a man who had gone off the rails after losing his wife and three adorable young children, as well as their pet poodle Spider, in 9/11. I don’t know, I found the whole idea of the dog being on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre highly unlikely. Was it meant to make us feel even more sorry for poor miserable Charlie?

The other main character in the movie is Dr Alan Johnson, played by Don Cheadle, who was also surprisingly good. (Maybe my expectations were really low…). Alan is a dentist, who has a beautiful wife, Janeane, played by Jada Pinckett Smith (wife of Will) and two daughters – one young, the other already a teenager.

The two men were roommates in college when they were both studying dentistry; they hadn’t seen each other for many years, and hadn’t kept in touch. Although Alan and his wife had heard about Charlie’s tragic loss over the news, all his attempts to contact Charlie afterwards had been unsuccessful.

One day, stuck in traffic, Alan sees Charlie coming out of a hardware store with a can of paint. He calls after him, but Charlie is wearing earphones and shutting out the world – which he does repeatedly throughout the movie. Their paths cross a few more times, until Alan finally has an opportunity to speak to Charlie, who doesn’t recognise him. It seems that he has completely blocked out his past.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (it’s a very slow moving moody piece), Alan and Charlie reconnect, and start spending a lot of time together, doing guy things – playing video games, playing music, going to the movies… Alan’s wife, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly annoyed at her husband’s lengthy unexplained absences, but seems to realise at some point that he not only needs more freedom than she has been allowing him previously, but more importantly, that Charlie is a deeply traumatised man who needs a true friend… and therapy.

Enter a few more female characters – the lovely Liv Tyler in the role of a psychologist (you can guess how she fits into the plot, right?), a gorgeous Saffron Burrows who initially has an obsession with Alan, but who bears an uncanny resemblance to Charlie’s deceased wife (you can see where this is going, right?), and Melanie, the receptionist at Alan’s practice, who has some hysterically funny lines.

All in all, I thought the movie was fairly good, though no Oscar-winning performances and not spiritually transformative – I’d probably give it about three stars, not more.


For other movies we’ve watched in February, click on:

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