Don’t Bother: Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me
(Mike Binder 2007)

I remember once in a screenwriting class in film school the instructor said even the best actors can not save a bad script. If I were going to give an example of that lesson, I’d show this film.

I say that because I have incredible respect for Don Cheadle as an actor and there’s just not enough roles out there in the film industry for someone like him–a black man who’s not willing to be a comedic relief (which he does sometimes anyway, like in the Ocean’s Eleven series) or a sex object.

As for Adam Sandler, if you wanted to pick a film that showed his ability to cross over from comedy to serious drama, this is not the example to use. If I had never seen him in Punch Drunk Love I’d say the cross over wasn’t possible for him. But that, in my opinion, was a great script.

Overall the film was very flat. It’s an excellent premise, but it does not go an inch beyond the cliche or literal. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character is overtly controlling with no subtlety. Adam Sandler’s character has a predictable “break through” in the therapist’s office rather than some creatively thought out unexpected moment, which is what tends to happen more in real life with grief. The story does not offer any kind of new view on grief nor does it bring you in tune enough with either of the characters to feel any of their feelings with them. The use of the soundtrack of the song of the film’s title–versions by both The Who and Pearl Jam–is overly literal where the he places his headphones on every time there’s talk of his dead family, but there’s no development or understanding of why the character is fixated on this song in particular. And nothing else saves this film–I can’t tell you one visual image that I remember from its standard cinematography.

I rarely give such bad reviews, but for this film I have to say: don’t bother to add to your queue.

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