Sleepwalking (Alliance, 2008) D: Bill Maher, w/ AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron. Rating: NN: DVD package: NN
A good renter doesn't have to be a good movie. It just has to give you what you want. If you want your heartstrings tugged, but not hard enough to threaten breakage, Sleepwalking works fine. It's got some good acting, good scenes, a few moments of almost primal drama.
If, however, you want a movie that includes skilled storytelling, a sense of rising action and an ending that stays true to the world of the film, I suggest you look elsewhere.
The basic story works. When the dope grower she's living with gets busted, Joleen (Charlize Theron) has no choice but to foist her 12-?year-?old daughter Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) on her weak, directionless brother James (Nick Stahl) and take off. Children's Aid descends, so James and Tara hit the road, ending up at Tara's grandfather's farm (Dennis Hopper), where the dysfunctional family theme really kicks in.
We know it's a dysfunctional family because Joleen told us as much right up front, but we wait for it, and wait some more while writer Zac Stanford establishes over and over that Grandad is a mean man. We got that already. It's the problem with the whole movie. No point is left untelegraphed, then that same point gets reiterated.
This gives the actors ample opportunity to deliver much emotion, which Robb and Hopper do well. It also kills the pace. Every scene drags under the weight of dramatic pauses until we're screaming "Get on with it!"
Most of the 15-?minute making-?of doc is the typical cast and crew love-?in, leavened by some intentional humour from Woody Harrelson and unintentional humour from the Californians freaking out over the cold Saskatchewan location.
Much of the love is directed toward Theron in her producer mode, but director Bill Maher is strangely absent from the proceedings. Too bad. He gives the movie some interesting expressionist visuals and pulls off a nifty tonal shift from sentimental to eerie around the 54-?minute mark.
EXTRAS Making-?of doc. Widescreen and full-?frame. English, French audio. English subtitles.