28 Days


Directed by: Betty Thomas
Written by:Susannah Grant
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West, Elizabeth Perkins, Azura Skye, Steve Buscemi, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Released: May 25, 2000
Grade: C+

I have long been a basher of Sandra Bullock and she hit rock bottom with her performance in Hope Floats.  You can understand my surprise when she delivered an above average performance in 28 Days but it is the vehicle itself that lets her down.

Think about past movies and TV shows that have dealt with alcohol problems.  This film offers no new material.  Before proceeding just guess at what you think transpires in 28 Days and see if it agrees with the plot detailed below.

Gwen (Bullock) and Jasper (West) are a couple that enjoy getting out on the town and spend most of their days drunk, hungover or stoned.  Gwen’s problems reach boiling point at her sister’s wedding when in a drunken state, she badmouths the husband, destroys the wedding cake and steals a limousine which she promptly smashes into the front porch of a neighbouring home.

Sentenced to 28 days in a rehabilitation clinic, Gwen is initially apprehensive and is caught by her councillor (Buscemi) after sneaking out and getting plastered.  Threatening to send her to jail, Gwen decides to get serious, adapts to the program and kicks her habit.  In the process she wins the friendship of everyone at the clinic, changes many of their lives, suffers from the death of a patient who cannot cope and dumps her boyfriend when she realises he is nothing more than a drunken idiot.

It is evident that this film has had more cuts than a head of hair.  So many of the characters are flaky and don’t make much sense.  Viggo Mortensen plays a baseball player who is admitted to the centre, develops a semi-love interest with Gwen but nothing is resolved.  Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays a very minor role that I cannot understand given her Oscar nomination three years ago and Steve Buscemi is hardly seen at all.  The most ridiculous character has to go to Gerhardt (Alan Tudyk) who plays some sort of idiot whose stupidity attracts most of the film’s laughs.

A sole high point in the film was its use of a fictitious soapie named Santa Cruz which is watched by characters throughout - its stab at current US shows is very funny.  Sandra Bullock is on cruise control and appears like most other characters she has played but at least she seems more relaxed.

The final two scenes in this film are disgraceful and the ending is surely one of the worst I have witnessed.  The film ends in unusual fashion with a freeze-frame shot suggesting there was more afterwards but it was edited out at the last minute.  In the final shot, Gwen hugs Gerhardt at a plant store suggesting that everything from then on in will be all right.

I could suggest a more interesting ending.  How about some final words just before the credits role - “Gwen went on the bender to end all benders and checked in and out of rehab until she died of a drug overdose at the age of 38”.  It doesn’t really have the making of a Sandra Bullock movie does it?  Given her recent track record however, it could only be an improvement.

My name is Sandra Bullock and I pick bad movies.