©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
Reign Over Me

Filthy says:
"9/11 was tragic. Be dum bum!!"

Reign Over Me isn't a good movie. Sure, it's loaded with good intentions, or the appearance of same. But if good intentions counted, then my trash for the last three weeks would have gotten taken to the curb and not hidden in the hall closet. But it's another thirty feet to the curb and I got some shit to do.

What Reign Over Me is is a movie made by people who have some vague idea of what they want to say, but get tripped up every step of the way by their own limited talent. A dentist (Adam Sandler) loses his family in the 9/11 attacks and becomes a ghost of a man in New York City. He rides around on a gas-powered scooter all hours of the day and lives like a recluse in a very nice apartment, with a really fucking huge TV. He doesn't have to work because he lives off the massive government payout and insurance money he got.

It seems like a pretty good gig to me. Well, except the losing your family part. Now he has to do his own dishes. Anyway, Sandler putters along, staying out of others' ways and doing everything he can to forget his own tragedy until his college roommate-in-a-rut (Don Cheadle) sees him and tries to draw him out of his shell.

What follows is generally trite resolutions and realizations punctuated by mumbo-jumbo psychology and Sandler's horrific interpretation of suffering as something like autism, retardation and baby-talk, all at the same time. Like any "prestige" movie about a retard, the retard doesn't change, it's the people around him who have to learn the lessons. See, it's the non-prestige movies (except Charly, I guess) where retards transform.

Cheadle fucks up Sandler's fragile existence by trying to get him to go to therapists or talk about the dead wife and kids he is trying hard to forget. It's all well-intentioned but boneheaded, just like this movie. Through this, of course, Cheadle learns, first that Sandler was doing about as well as he was going to before the meddling. Also, second, to embrace his own boring-ass life and annoying wife. To cherish the ones you love, and all that horseshit about an average life being worthy and noble, and blah blah blah.

It's a long slog to get to that revelation. The audience has to sit through Sandler acting so hard that he appears to be breaking out in hives. You can tell he's serious, though, because his hair is all matted. Hell, he even cries in one scene. That's better than his baby-talk, blubbering into his shoulder, and we get plenty of that. We also are supposed to think that the tragedy that befell him makes him incredibly childish and stupid. I guess that's how he makes his living, but Jesus Christ in a tub of Miracle Whip, he barely has the desire to act in his shitty comedies. Whose fucking idea was it to let him "stretch"?

Along Cheadle's path of self-discovery, sitcom piles up like dogshit in the Mrs. and my back bedroom. There's a "sassy" black receptionist who gives the bad guys backtalk and, apparently, is supposed to crack us up. Cheadle encounters a "sexy" woman (Saffron Burrows) who inexplicably wants to give him a blowjob after he fixes her teeth (why would a woman want to blow someone when their mouth is all numb and bloody -- now that I think about it, I don't know the answer but it sounds pretty damn hot). When he turns her down, she threatens to sue. Of course, the solution is sitcom pat and cornball. As it is when Cheadlle keeps waiting for a psychiatrist outside his building so he can "accidentally" bump into her and get free advice. Or when he confronts his dental-practice partners about showing him more respect. Rather than tell him to fuck off, they all act like they got what they deserved. I sure as hell don't know anyone who rolls over that fucking easy, except my wife after she eats a whole Mrs. Smith's pie in bed.

All that shit betrays the writer-director, Mike Binder's past as the creator of bad, insincere and badly out-of-touch sitcoms like Mind of the Married Man. Seriously, did anyone ever watch that show for a reason other than hoping to see some boobs? Binder's stock in trade is the cornball coincidence and pat solutions, and here he is trying to weave them into a movie about post-traumatic stress disorder. Man, it doesn't work.

Like Cheadle and Sandler, Cheadle's wife (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Sandler's accountant are painted one shade too simple. They are as one-dimensional as a mobius strip. Cheadle and Sandler are about 1.5 dimensions apiece, but both are very muted and somber to make sure we get that this movie is about important shit, despite the sitcom antics. Because of that, Reign Over Me moves like it's underwater. Everything takes way longer than it should, and getting to the point, which turns out to be not much, is like pulling teeth. And not people teeth. I mean dog teeth. With the dog awake. When he doesn't need it.

Well, he didn't. But I didn't know that at the time. We were just drinking together and my dog, who never ever talks, starts saying his tooth hurts. So I got a plier and yanked it out, but I had to use the cord from the phone, a lamp cord and the curtain string to keep him lying still.

Then, the next morning, when I was sober again, he told me it was the wrong tooth and that I had hurt his feelings. Damn dog has never spoken to me since. Point is, it was unnecessarily painful and drawn out for him. Just like the plot of Reign Over Me. Two Fingers.



Chuck Thomas of Movie Reviews and Previews

Music and Lyrics is "Romantic and hilarious. Not to be missed."

Shooter "Puts you in the crosshairs and pulls the trigger on suspense! Filled with edge-of-your-seat action and excitement. Shooter is the movie to see!"

Filthy's Reading
Donald Westlake - Watch Your Back

Listening to
Las Vegas Grind Vol. 1


Stranger than Fiction