Binder's bogus new film Reign Over Me is a nauseatingly shameless disaster about a reclusive widower grieving for the family he lost in the terrorist attacks. An inert Adam Sandler dons a disheveled Bob Dylan wig to play Charlie Fineman (Get it? He's not fine, man), a former Manhattan dentist whose wife and three daughters were on one of the planes that left Boston bound for Los Angeles. Because New York City is only five blocks wide (at least, in Binder's limited view), Charlie eventually crosses paths with his college roommate Alan (Don Cheadle) and the pretentiously somber movie tries to connect these lonely souls.
The movie's focus is everywhere, mainly because Charlie's salvation story isn't interesting enough for a full-length feature. We've all lost loved ones. Some have perished in tragic accidents. Charlie's reaction is neither common nor realistic.
As for Alan, he's stuck in a rut carved out by his harmless wife (Jada Pinkett Smith, biding her time in a useless role). He must contend with a sexual abuse case brought against him by a beautiful patient (Saffron Burrows), though that conflict resolves itself with no real fuss.
Other characters are brought into the fold, though the imbalanced film isn't sure how important they are to the proceedings. Liv Tyler comes and goes as a psychiatrist helping both Alan and Charlie. Robert Klein and Melinda Dillon play Charlie's grieving in-laws who insist they want to be a part of the man's life. Binder just never explains why.
Sandler is the wrong choice for Charlie. Not known for his dramatic range, he conveys deep sorrow by mimicking Dustin Hoffman circa Rain Man. Sandler stares longingly at nothing in particular, rocks back and forth when sitting in place, tells people with staggering repetition that he used to sleep in the nude, and melts down when strangers try to touch him.
Binder does him no favors. His idea of emotionally disconnected is more in line with autism or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Charlie collects vinyl records because they smell like the '70s. He randomly tests strangers with trivia questions (that annoying practice fades away as the movie progresses, and is never addressed).
Cheadle almost holds the whole thing together as he tries to bring his friend back from the brink. The truth of the matter, though, is that without its unmistakable 9/11 subtext, Reign would be another calculated and artificial tearjerker prepackaged for Hallmark or Lifetime -- two channels I usually avoid. This is about as artificial as it gets.
Papa was a rolling stone.
In Theaters: Friday 23rd March 2007
Box Office USA: $19.7M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Relativity Media, Sunlight Productions
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 96 Rotten: 55
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Mike Binder
Producer: Jack Binder, Micheal Rotenberg
Screenwriter: Mike Binder
Starring: Adam Sandler as Charlie Fineman, Don Cheadle as Alan Johnson, Jada Pinkett Smith as Janeane Johnson, Liv Tyler as Angela Oakhurst, Saffron Burrows as Donna Remar, Donald Sutherland as Richter Raines, Robert Klein as Jonathan Timpleman, Melinda Dillon as Ginger Timpleman, Mike Binder as Bryan Sugarman, Jonathan Banks as Stelter, Rae Allen as Adell Modell, Paula Newsome as Melanie, John de Lancie as Nigel Pennington, Paul Butler as George Johnson, Camille LaChe Smith as Cherie Johnson, Imani Hakim as Jocelyn Johnson, Denise Dowse as Psychiatric Hospital Therapist, Anthony Chisholm as William Johnson, B. J. Novak as Mr. Fallon, Jessica Golden as Night Club Comic, Ted Raimi as Peter Savarino, Harris Peet as Kemp, Molly Binder as Becky Fishman, Tommy Nohilly as Patty, Robert Harvey as Dental Partner, Nick Taylor as Taxi Driver, M.D. Walton as New York Police Officer #1, Chad Brigockas as New York Police Officer #2, Elizabeth Andrews as Sugarman's Secretary, Neal Young as New Dental Patient, Lela Loren as Dental Hygienist
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...
With a spectacular setting and two solid actors on-screen, this thriller builds enough solid suspense...
Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...
Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...
Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...
Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...
An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...