Reign Over Me on Blu-ray
Adam Sandler plays against type in this drama about a man with a broken heart who finally gets a chance at making a new life.
Charlie Fineman (Sandler) was a dentist, but after his entire family was massacred in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (they were on one of the planes that took off from Boston that terrible morning) he becomes a lost soul, retreating into a world of video games, music and jam sessions.
Then one day his college roommate Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) happens across him and, having heard what happened to him and being a kind soul, wants to rekindle their friendship. This is easier said than done; Fineman is now quite irresponsible and doesn't care that what, to him, is a great night out could cause angst for Alan and his wife (Jada Pinkett Smith) and family, who sit at home and wonder what happened to him.
Fineman surely needs help, but does he need psychiatric help, a good friend on which to lean, or a new woman in his life? These are some of the questions dealt with in Mike Binder's quiet film, which at times is in danger of plodding excessively but which won us over before the end - and not just because it has The Who in it!
It's kind of a buddy film, or maybe a "budding buddy film" and as Alan helps Charlie grow and deal with his demons, he also grows in his own way and in the end both of them come away as better people. And isn't that nice and warm and fuzzy? Except there's more to it than that.
Sandler is excellent. At the beginning, he's dangerously close to redoing one of his comedy characters, off the wall and with a bit of a speech impediment, but he makes it work. Cheadle is also very good as the likeable professional and family man whose building friendship with Fineman threatens to overturn his comfortable little world.
The supporting cast is also very good. Smith is strong as Alan's put-upon wife, and Liv Tyler exudes humanity as the shrink Alan tries to get Charlie to see. Saffron Burrows does a nice job in her role of a strange but attractive woman who at first seems completely whacked out, but who later (like so much else in the movie) proves to be more than meets the eye.
Binder himself has a supporting role as Charlie's lawyer/"troubleshooter" and he's joined by Donald Sutherland as, surprisingly, a compassionate conservative judge, and Melinda Dillon and Robert Klein as Charlie's estranged in-laws.
It's fairly predictable and a little ragged, but by the time the credits roll (and why didn't Binder use the original Who version of "Love Reign O'er Me" here?) you'll be glad to have spent this 124 minutes in your home theater.
Apparently shot in high defintion, the film's Blu-ray incarnation is presented in 1080p, but it has a very film-like look, though very clear and pristine compared to some transfers that originated on film. There's a little softness, but that may be deliberate on the part of the director. But the image is overall quite sharp and deep, with rich blacks and very good color. There's also some noise, especially in darker shots, but it isn't enough to spoil your enjoyment.
The audio, whis is offered in uncompressed 5.1 PCM, could be a tad louder when Sandler's musical tastes are being featured (especially the Who material - but we're Who freaks who can never hear that band loud enough and so this might color our opinion), but other than that it's good and clean, with good dymamics, and supports the film well. There isn't a lot of surround in evidence, mostly ambiance (which is okay; it helps make you feel a part of the production)
Extras include a photo montage accompanied by Pearl Jam's cover version of The Who's masterpiece "Love Reign O'er Me", a "making-of" documentary and an extended jam session featuring Adam Sander and Don Cheadle.
Reign Over Me, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.