Two old friends who fell out of touch are re-united in post-9/11 New York City.
--- The story begins at sunrise, a lone man named Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) rides the empty New York streets on a motorized scooter, headphones on his ears and a smile on his face; weaving through light traffic and in his own little world.
Cut to Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle). a dentist with a beautiful wife (Jada Pinkett Smith), and two devoted daughters. Yet he feels inert and empty—a bystander in his own life, too often dominated by his partners, his receptionist, and his family. He is also facing sexual harassment charges filed by an obsessed patient, Donna Remar (Saffron Burrows). He inappropriately seeks advice from a therapist that works in his building, Dr. Angela Oakhurst (Liv Tyler), referring to his situation as that of a "friend's".
By chance, Alan spots Charlie, his old college roommate from dental school, whom Alan hasn't seen or heard from in years. At first, Charlie seems not to remember Alan; he has completely shut himself off from the outside world after 9/11 when he lost his wife and daughters on one of the planes. Initially reluctant, Charlie allows Alan to rekindle their friendship and appears to enjoy their time together. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that Charlie has no desire to talk about his family. He angrily lashes out every time they're mentioned or alluded to.
As the two men bond they play video games, go to all-night movie marathons, play with Charlie's music equipment and live as if their lives were as uncomplicated as in their college days. Charlie spends a great deal of time collecting records, playing Shadow of the Colossus, challenging people to trivia, remodeling his kitchen - every few months, according to his landlord - and constantly listens to his iPod to drown out the world. Alan spends so much time with Charlie that he starts ignoring his wife, Janeane and she starts to get a little jealous. But when Alan's father dies, Charlie is unable to accept the subject of death and to change the subject, invites him to get breakfast and hang out some more. Still in shock over the news, Alan angrily refuses and leaves. A few days later, Alan meets Brian Sugarman (Mike Binder), Charlie's accountant, who assumes Alan is taking advantage of Charlie when he is told to offer Alan one million dollars in exchange for continuing their friendship. Alan is shocked Charlie has that kind of money and insulted by Sugarman's aggressiveness and assumption, and makes it clear he isn't mad at Charlie and was simply upset at the news of his father's death and was unable to contact him while making arangements for a funeral and burial.
Alan starts to understand that Charlie shouldn't live in his fantasy world and needs to confront his pain in order to move on and reclaim his life. He invites Charlie to meet him at his office to passively revive memories of his own practice, which sparks a violent outburst that leads to a dishelved office hallway and waiting room, a loud argument and Charlie's first encounter with Donna Remar, arriving for a meeting to resolve the lawsuit. Donna admits to Alan that she sees another doctor in the building and often sees him in the elevator; and that her attraction was due to sensing a kindred soul, how his disdain matched her own - having just suffered a painful divorce after discovering her husband was living a double life with another woman. She drops the charges. Charlie develops a strong crush on Donna, calling her "beautiful, like someone out of a 1940's movie."
Alan meets with Sugarman to discuss what to do with Charlie. Sugarman tells him that he and Charlie were once the best of friends and golf buddies, but since the plane crash Charlie wants nothing to do with him on a personal level. He suggests that Alan is exactly what Charlie needs, someone who doesn't know his family at all and won't ask questions about his family or try to talk about them. He starts to understand his role in Charlie's life and resolves that he is, also, the only one Charlie trusts and can actually affect changes for the better.kurac
Charlie is convinced by Alan to see Dr. Oakhurst and promises to go with him on lunch breaks. Charlie spends most of his sessions wearing his headphones, telling Angela she's too young for this and ending sessions early. Angela eventually suggests the sessions are going nowhere and that he needs to tell his story to someone in order to help himself, and that it doesn't have to be her. Charlie imemdiately leaves the office and speaks to Alan in the waiting area about as much of the wife, daughters and family dog he lost that he can stand, breaking down into tears and recounting the events the day of the attack and the last thing he said to his wife before their death: another argument about remodeling the kitchen.
Soon after, Charlie falls into a deep depression while alone at home and watching a classic romance movie on tv. Stirred by the haunting memories he carries he decides to commit suicide to make it stop. Finding an old gun but no bullets, and startled by his landlord entering to get him to turn the tv down after the neighbours complained, he rushes outside with the gun in hand and wanders the streets. He comes across two police officers in a diner. Standing in the street he gets their attention by taking out the gun and pointing it at a cab driver, hoping that one of the officers would shoot and kill him. The cops rush out and try to stop him; one of them tackles him from behind and arrests him. Alan, with Dr. Oakhurst, find out about this and bail him out.
Due to his 9/11 widower status and to avoid a political nightmare, all criminal charges are dropped; however Charlie is required to undergo a standard three day psychiatric evaluation to determine if he needs further mental help. After evaluation, the hospital finds that he should be committed with a court hearing to rule on it; during which the prosecutor is successful in a ploy to trigger an outburst in court by showing enlarged photographs of Charlie's family carried daily by Charlie's parents-in-law, Jonathan (Robert Klein) and Ginger (Melinda Dillon) Timpleman. Wise to what happened, Judge Raines (Donald Sutherland) orders the hearing cleared and council for both sides plus the Timpleman's to meet in his office in private. Raines understands that Charlie is going through "something very profound" but resolves to leave his fate in the Timplemans' hands, as they are the only remains of family he has.
Charlie is sitting with Angela outside when Donna (who came to the hearing as a show of support) asks to join them, and whispers to Angela, wondering, "why can't they understand he's just got a broken heart? It's so broken, his poor heart." Inspired by what he overhears, Charlie leaves and rushes inside the courthouse to find the Timpleman's and confront them, speaking to them for the first time in years. He tells them that he doesn't need to carry pictures because he sees them everywhere, in everyone's faces everywhere he goes. That he understands they're in pain too, but they, at least, have each other, while he's the one who is haunted by the memory his wife and children. Ginger begins to cry and Charlie gives her a kiss on the cheek for comfort and promptly leaves.
With Alan's help, Charlie quietly finishes the kitchen one last time and moves into a new apartment, not leaving a forewarding address. Alan secretly invites Donna to the new place, and leaves to give the two some alone time, calling his wife on the way to say he's sorry they've been having issues lately but wants to work at making things better. The story ends on a high note when Alan is told by a disgruntled desk manager that Charlie can't be leaving his scooter laying around the lobby; and remembering the good time he had riding through the city with Charlie, decides to ride it into the night.
|Adam Sandler||Charlie Fineman|
|Don Cheadle||Dr. Alan Johnson|
|Jada Pinkett Smith||Janeane Johnson|
|Liv Tyler||Dr. Angela Oakhurst|
|Saffron Burrows||Donna Remar|
|Donald Sutherland||Judge Raines|
|Robert Klein||Jonathan Timpleman|
|Melinda Dillon||Ginger Timpleman|
|Mike Binder||Bryan Sugarman|
|Dan Fleury||Dr. Christopher Berman|
The New York Times found the film "maddeningly uneven," adding, "It’s rare to see so many moments of grace followed by so many stumbles and fumbles, or to see intelligence and discretion undone so thoroughly by glibness and grossness. And it is puzzling, and ultimately draining, to see a film that waves the flag of honesty — Face your demons! Speak from your heart! Open up! — turn out to be so phony.
Reign Over Me currently holds a 63% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. General praise has been awarded to the performances of Sandler and Cheadle, with many reviews praising Mike Binder's direction and screenplay. The film opened in 1,671 theaters with a $4,465 per theater average, giving it a total gross of $7.5 million for the weekend. It ended its theatrical run with a domestic total of $19.7 million and an international total of $1.2 million, making a total gross of $20.9 million.
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