REIGN OVER ME (Mike Binder). 124 minutes. Opens Friday (March 23). For venues and times, see Movies, page 89. Rating: NN Rating: NN
In Reign Over Me, Adam Sandler plays Charlie Fineman, who lost his family in 9/11 and has, in the intervening years, slowly been losing his mind. One day he meets his college roommate, Allan (Don Cheadle), now a successful dentist who feels suffocated in his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith.
Allan decides Charlie needs help, even if he's not asking for it and Allan's not qualified to provide it. Plus, Allan has his own problems. Shift the perspective and it's the story of a man who seeks to escape from his responsibilities by taking on a problem too big to solve.
We won't talk about whether it's appropriate to make 9/11 the basis of an Adam Sandler movie. Sandler plays it straight and works hard, though he can't do anything about his sentimental impulses. This is, God help us all, his Rain Man.
The problem isn't the performers. It's writer/director Mike Binder's disregard for dramatic structure. Key scenes take place without the principals, the movie starts ending at the 105-minute mark and then keeps going for 20 minutes, and they could kill 90 per cent of the Saffron Burrows subplot.