“Reign Over Me” has no cartoon turtles and no hills with eyes. But forget those other flicks. They don’t have the elements that make “Reign Over Me” so great.
Adam Sandler is…serious? Don Cheadle is…funny? Jada Pinkett-Smith is…not ghetto? Yes, and they all do it quite well.
“Reign Over Me” is not strictly the serious movie you may think. The story here is too compelling, the humor too consistent and the characters are too charming for you not to be pleased.
Cheadle plays dentist Alan Johnson.
He no longer enjoys his practice, nor the action-filled nights of puzzles with his wife (Pinkett-Smith).
Alan is happy to run into old college roommate Charlie Fineman (Sandler), but surprised to find Charlie doesn’t remember him. But Charlie has chosen not to remember anyone.
After losing his wife and three daughters in 9/11, he does not deal with the pain in a ‘normal’ way.
Instead, he represses any memories of his family and former life. Charlie zips around the streets of New York on a scooter, plays video games and jams in a rock band.
Alan sets his mind to get Charlie some help, but at the same time is drawn to the freedom in Charlie’s life.
As Alan and Charlie start to hang out, you see how the relationship benefits both men.
Things take an even more gripping turn when the state tries to commit Charlie into a mental hospital.
Even though the pace slows down a bit toward the end, the viewer wants to see each character’s fate. And the subplot of a crazy woman who pretends to need dental work so she can throw herself at Alan will have you laughing out loud.
Reportedly, Cheadle questioned the 9/11 angle of the movie, and viewers might too.
The political tone here is not too subtle.
The movie offers a realistic portrayal of how the tragedy may have affected some Americans – losing everything you love and being reminded of it every day by the war makes it hard to move on. So no one can blame Charlie for trying to ignore the pain.
But the politics here either may take away from the film or spark conversation of how to help a segment of our country that is still suffering.
Poignant but not sappy and certainly not predictable, “Reign Over Me,” is a refreshingly good story.