Reign Over Me Mike Binder

Mike Binder’s The Upside of Anger had me bearing my fangs when I reviewed it a couple of years ago, so I’m happy to state categorically that his latest effort is a marked improvement. Still, that isn’t saying much, meaning Reign Over Me never gets past the point of tepid confusion.

Don Cheadle stars as a well-off dentist who is feeling distant from wife Jada Pinkett. He gains a new lease on life when he bumps into old college roommate Adam Sandler, a man left shattered after his family dies in the 9/11 attacks. Cheadle makes it his business to reanimate the life of his deeply traumatised former friend, which means sudden detours into record shops and Mel Brooks marathons, as well as awkward attempts to introduce the former Happy Gilmore to a shrink.

The movie is more direct and honest than its immediate auteur-ial predecessor; it seems to want to have been made rather than forced into being through a make-work project. But for all of Binder’s emotional good intentions nothing about it comes off right — too much of it is designed to advance the plot mechanically without actually considering the veracity of what’s being advanced. Thus it frequently seems ill-acquainted with actual human behaviour, creating a couple of in-laws who harass Sandler for no reason, as well as a patient of Cheadle’s who first makes a pass then cries sexual harassment and then for no reason, gets insinuated into our broken hero’s life.

There are a few sparks when it comes to Cheadle’s selfish reasons for getting involved, and if those had been developed there might have been a real movie here. Instead, we have emotional soup without a shred of logic or purpose.