Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

‘Reign Over Me’

Friday Flick logoThe route to this week’s topic took me from “Zookeeper,” recently airing on television, and through various Adam Sandler comedies, most of which I’ve enjoyed even if they might not be great cinema.

After wading through all of that, I picked another Adam Sandler movie, his coming-out-of-the-comedic-comfort-zone performance in “Reign Over Me.”

This film by Mike Binder (who’s currently in theaters with “White or Black”) was released in spring 2007, less than six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The very idea of taking on such a raw topic in such a personal fashion less than six years after our world was so severely shaken … well, that in itself took a lot of courage.

Charlie Fineman (Sandler) was a dentist who lost his wife and three daughters in one of the plane crashes. Unable to deal with it, he collapsed within himself, blocking out the world with music, movies and video games.

Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) was a dentist in New York City who was lost in his own right, dealing with doubt and insecurities in spite of his successful practice and perfect family life.

Fineman and Johnson were roommates during dental school and they run into each other early in “Reign Over Me.” In some strange way that underscores Johnson’s anxieties, we find he envies Fineman’s lifestyle and is pulled into his buddy’s world. That eventually places Johnson in a unique position to attempt to heal Charlie and maybe help himself.

The film can be painful to watch as we hurt along with Charlie, if not also Alan. We pull for his recovery while wondering if restoring his life might hurt more than hiding from it.

I appreciate films that delve into what makes us tick. Thousands of people had to deal with tragedy following 9/11. Through accidents, sudden illnesses, wars and criminal activities, thousands of people confront heart-rending loss every day.

People suffer and grieve differently. Some cannot deal or must take a long time to come to grips with the reality. In other words, Charlie Fineman’s story is one of many. “Reign Over Me” tells it well.

I gave the movie an 8 and the IMDb community currently has it rated at 7.5. Its bonus is proving Adam Sandler can handle a dramatic role.

At last count, there are 274 movies that I’ve rated 8-10 stars on Internet Movie Database, better known as IMDb. Each Friday, I will pick one of these movies and post something about it. To make sure you miss nothing, pick one of the ways to follow me from the column to the right. As always, leave a comment and share with your friends.

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