Plot: Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) runs into his old college roommate Charlie (Adam Sandler). Charlie had lost his entire family in the September 11 attack on New York. Alan attempts to help Charlie as both men seem to have issues they are trying to resolve.
Don Cheadle as Alan Johnson: Alan is a very straight-laced dentist who is realizing he’s not really living his own life. Alan does what he is told, whether it is from his wife or his work. If it wasn’t for Cheadle being one of the best, most charismatic actors in Hollywood right now, this character would have sunk.
Adam Sandler as Charlie Fineman: I love when comedic actors attempt to broaden their range. Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey and Sandler (“Punch Drunk Love”), have all had success with it. But Sandler seems to be a little too crazy and a little too sane. One second he can’t look at pictures without screaming and then next he can quietly explain his loss … notice I said attempt in the first sentence.
Jada Pickett Smith as Janeane Johnson: I feel bad for her. Pickett Smith wasn’t given much of a role. She gave a couple of good looks and a nurturing voice but it ends there. Plus, it seems like she should have been insanely upset that Alan suddenly found all this extra time to NOT spend with his family. This grade is for when she was on screen.
Donald Sutherland as Judge Raines: Ever since “Without Limits,” I have been happy to see Sutherland in a movie. He just knows how to deliver a line. Well, if you are excited to see him, prepare to wait until the very end. He doesn’t make an appearance for almost two hours.
Sights and sounds: The music is supposed to be a selling point for this film, with Charlie constantly playing his iPod to remove himself from the world. The only moment that worked for me was with Bruce Springsteen’s “The River.” But I’ve never been a fan on Jackson Browne or The Who.
Overall: “Reign Over Me,” comes off as a poor man’s “Fisher King.” A man (Don Cheadle) finds another man (Adam Sandler) who needs help, but really he’s just trying to save himself … he just doesn’t know it yet. The main problem is “Reign Over Me” always skirts around the issue instead of tackling it head on. Depression and loss are hell, and hopefully friends can be there to bring you out of it.
Overall Grade: 5