Reign over Me DVD Review
by Kam Williams
Sandler and Cheadle's Bittersweet Buddy Flick on DVD
Relentlessly depressing in tone, this bittersweet buddy flick focuses on the toll the 9/11 tragedy has taken on Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler), a defrocked dentist whose wife and three daughters were passengers on one of the planes commandeered by hijackers that fateful day. Not surprisingly, since his life was ripped apart, Charlie's been paranoid, emotionally fragile and generally unable to function.
The picture's point of departure is five years after the attack, which is where we find the grieving widower unemployed, in deep denial, and avoiding anyone who might remind him of his loss, including his wife's parents, Jonathan (Robert Klein) and Ginger (Melinda Dillon). Disheveled, unshaven, and looking like a young Bob Dylan, he squanders his days aimlessly zigzagging around Manhattan on a motorized scooter, mumbling to himself in an introspective haze.
Evenings, he retreats to his darkened apartment to listen to obscure rock tunes on vinyl records while playing the same video game over and over. Hope for Charlie finally arrives after a chance encounter with Alan (Don Cheadle) his old roommate from dental school. Despite the fact that he is currently dealing with his own midlife and marital crises, Dr. Johnson altruistically decides to take a personal interest in his friend's well-being.
Reign over Me begs to be appreciated as a cerebral, character-driven meditation on the psyche of America in the aftermath of the terror attacks, but it resorts far too frequently to standard Adam Sandler fare to be of any more substance than the rest of his familiar lowbrow brand of humor. Here, Sandler simply exploits 9/11 to free his character to launch politically-incorrect bile in the direction of Latinos, gays and any other easy targets unfortunate enough to cross his path.
A meanspirited, frivolous, brutally-dull, pretentious indulgence in bigotry and sophomoric behavior in the name of Al-Qaeda.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality and homophobic slurs.
Running time: 124 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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