In the past few years, Adam Sandler has been making a transition from comedy to serious roles. His performance in "Spanglish" was powerful. However, in his new movie, "Reign Over Me", Adam "hits one out of the park".
This is one of the 10 best movies that I have seen - ever. Sandler's performance goes so far beyond today's typical Hollywood role that they should create a new Oscars category for it.
Adam portrays Charlie Fineman, a man who loses his wife and three daughters in the 9-11-01 tragedy. He is a shell of a man, who blocks out the horror in his past by limiting his life to video games, Bruce Springstein, and vinyl records from the 70's.
I was stunned by Sandler's portrayal. Adam presents such a depth of emotion that we see into the very core of a man who has suffered more heartbreak than any human being can endure. I can't remember another movie that affected me so deeply.
Don Cheadle plays Alan Johnson, a dentist with a successful practice and a loving family, but whose life has lost the spark that makes every new day interesting. He is bored and feels restricted by his wife Janeane (Jada Pinckett Smith) who has every minute of his day planned out.
When Alan runs into Charlie - his old college roommate - and sees his condition, he feels compelled to help him. In the process, Alan discovers that his rescue mission gives him some of the freedom and novelty that he has been seeking.
Donald Sutherland contributes a short, but commanding performance as Judge Raines, who is required to decide on Charlie's fate (mental hospital commitment or freedom) - after Charlie has a meltdown and tries to end his life. I believe that the title "Reign Over Me" referrs to the Judge's decision. Sutherland says my favorite line in the movie. When a lawyer for the State acts in a despicable manner during Charlie's sanity hearing, the Judge takes him into his chambers and says "If you ever do anything like that in my courtroom again, a hardened criminal will be using you as a dress up doll!"
Excellent performances are also presented by Robert Klein and Melinda Dillon, who play Jonathan and Ginger Timpleman, Charlie's estranged in-laws. Their struggle to bond with Charlie after the tragedy only pushes him away, because he doesn't want to associate with people who remind him of the past. The Timpleman's pain then turns to anger towards Charlie, which results in one of the most poignant scenes in the movie. You may remember Melinda as the little boy's mother in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
This movie was written, produced, and directed by Mike Binder. Mike also has a role in the movie as Bryan Sugarman, Charlie's friend and accountant. That's a lot of work for one person. I am guessing that Mike took on these multiple responsibilities because he wanted to retain creative control over this project. Based on the results, I'm glad that he did!
From a primate's perspective, I believe that this movie will appeal most to orangutans. While they are slow moving and not particularly demonstrative, I think that this is because orangutans feel things more deeply and internalize many of their emotions. This makes them more sensitive to stories that are filled with sturm und drang and catharsis.
Summary: I give "Reign Over Me" 5 bananas. I highly recommend it, but don't forget your Kleenex!
NOTE: The Monkey Prose Movie Scale goes from no bananas (It sucks.) to 5 (It is one of the best movies in human history).