Reign Over Me

 
Directed by: Mike Binder
Written by:Mike Binder
Starring: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Liv Tyler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Saffron Burrows
Released: March 22, 2007
Grade: B+

Alan Johnson (Cheadle) is a successful dentist living in New York City.  He likes his job but is frustrated by the lack of respect he gets from the other partners in the practice.  After being accused of sexual assault by a crazy patient (Burrows), his colleagues refuse to support him.  They don’t care if he’s innocent - they’re more worried about the bad publicity and their public liability insurance.

Life is also frustrating at home.  Alan loves his wife (Smith) but is tiring of her bossy nature.  He feels that he has no freedom and that he is being controlled.  Looking for someone to confide in, Alan has found a psychiatrist near his office (Tyler) and is looking for positive answers.

His unsettled life will find clarity thanks to the arrival of an old friend.  On the street one evening, Alan bumps into Charlie Fineman (Sandler), his college roommate from 15 years ago.  Alan tries to talk to him but gets a blank look in return.  Charlie can’t remember him.

It turns out that Charlie’s wife and three children were on board one of the planes which crashed on September 11, 2001.  In the aftermath of their death, Charlie quit his job, locked himself in his apartment and shut out all memory of his family.  Despite the good intentions of others, he closed himself off from the rest of the world.

Alan and Charlie start spending time together.  It’s a partnership that works for Alan because it helps him forget his troubles at work and at home.  The partnership also works for Charlie because Alan knows not to mention his family.  They go to the movies, listen to music, visit clubs and reflect back on college memories.  Life seems so easy again.  Their new-found happiness however, can’t continue in its current form.  Their problems cannot be avoided.

Reign Over Me is a strange film.  When you read my plot description, it will come off sounding like a full-on drama.  This is not the case though.  In almost every emotional scene, writer-director Mike Binder (The Upside Of Anger) throws in an ice-breaker – a joke to lighten the mood.  I’m not sure why he has done this though.  Many people in my screening were laughing but others (including myself) were more subdued.

Don Cheadle’s (Hotel Rwanda) performance is the film’s highlight.  He does a great job bringing out his character’s insecurities.  He is believable.  I wasn’t as convinced by Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore).  Maybe I remember him too much from his comedies but his character seemed too “goofball”.  It’s as if he’s funny in trying not to be funny.  Would the film have been better if another actor was cast in role?  I think so.  While I’m in the mood to criticise, the fate of the patient who accused Alan of sexual assault was also puzzling.

It may not sound like it but I still enjoyed Reign Over Me.  The story is interesting and Cheadle is terrific.  It’s likeable but a little rough around the edges.