Reign Over Me Review

I was stuck in Charlie World, I couldn't leave.

Reign Over Me is completely and undeniably, a sleeper film. But that does not mean what you may think it means. Truth be told, it seems that the advertising and trailers for the film aren't doing a good job such that they fail to delve into the deep end of the story of the film itself. There is so much beneath the surface that you can forget about it being comedy, or on the flip-side, the comedy is fulfilling enough to enable you to forget about scratching beneath the surface for the thought-provoking material. For most films, it's either or, but not both! Director and writer Mike Binder, however, does more than just that either/or standard treatment — he gives you a complete package that stirs something within you and yet brings the laughter out of you, in strides.

It's so hard to explain when something different comes out of something so seemingly harmless (that is what I meant by “sleeper”)... There is no way one can go through this film and not laugh. Similarly, there is no way one can just come out of this film having brushed away all pretense of meaning and depth. Can you believe (I know I cannot!) the speed with which Adam Sandler is progressing and maturing as an actor? There are several scenes where they’re completely and blatantly focused on acting, and acting only — there are no gimmicks, no fancy camera angles, nothing at all to give the actor (Sandler) some headroom, or some room to breathe. It was up-close and personal and dirty. Sandler touched on a performance that is awe-inspiring.

Don't get me wrong, Reign Over Me isn't the best film actors Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler have performed in, but it is (and I hope, will certainly remain throughout) one of the best “mainstream” films of this year. I'm the type of guy who doesn't cede anything noteworthy to a comedy (arrogant, perhaps?), though I'll classify this as a drama-with-instances-of-comedy. I will, however, cede that this film is so much more greater than I was expecting. It’s thoughtful and touching and disturbing and disheartening at the same time. I cannot say, either, that the film triggered an onslaught of soul-searching, but I will proudly admit that the film enables one to think, if one wants to think. If you're there for the comedy and just the comedy, it's natural enough to work out for you, and the jokes are completely developed in their given scenarios (read: appropriately-placed, timed, and executed).

Besides the comedic aspect, the chemistry between Cheadle and Sandler is marvelous; one would think that for Don Cheadle, Adam Sandler was not indeed Adam Sandler but instead, say, George Clooney.

Artsy, or the lack thereof. My only complaint lies in the fact that the film is not artsy enough. It seems that the perforated edges were a bit too uneven for the filmmakers, so they pulled out a pair of scissors and cut out an even neater edge. Everything ties together, and when the end is in sight, so is a solution and conclusion that seals the deal in a happy, gratuitous manner.

I wish there are more aspects of the film that were left open ended, even messy. I wish the camera work were more artsy, and the cinematography more than casual. I wish the music took risks, though it can be said, arguably, that it did (the title of the film is indeed the title of a song, played throughout). The music is, however, fulfilling in that it tied together the film, not only audibly (of course!), but in content as well (so much of the film involves music). In the end, the music is but one of the many other little details that were written quite attentively. You can probably tell by now that I chose for myself, of the two aforementioned paths of viewing, the one of scratching as far beneath the surface as possible. Accordingly, my movie-going experience left me in bliss; happiness.

What am I trying to get across, haphazardly? Reign Over Me is a refreshing, lite, and clean-cut film. It's satisfying and fulfilling, and it is really hard to disappoint as (the proverbial:) there is something there for everyone. It's not perfect! Yes, it has flaws! But with as much emphasis on this as possible: If you're looking to relax, put your feet up, and view a film that is smart (for once), and a film that was made seemingly so lovingly and with care and attention to detail that gives you “room to breathe,” well this is it. You can choose Reign Over Me for the laughs or for the thoughts, or even both, and that is what makes it so enjoyable and different. For now, at least, I'm still stuck in Charlie World...

"Reign Over Me" opens March 23, 2007 and is rated R. Drama. Written and directed by Mike Binder. Starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Donald Sutherland, Jada Pinket Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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