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1001 Overlooked Movies - Reign Over Me (2007)

Two former college roommates rekindle their friendship in the aftermath of 9/11.

Directed by: Mike Binder
Starring: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows, Donald Sutherland


Alan Johnson (Cheadle), a dentist dragged down by the battle of everyday life, runs into his old college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Sandler), who lost his entire family on September 11th. With the help of a psychiatrist in his office building (Tyler) Alan decides to rekindle their friendship, and it turns out to be a good thing for both of them.
I think this film is fantastic. In viewing, I constantly found myself wanting to know more about Charlie. Unfortunately for the first half, Charlie didn't want you knowing anything about him! Director Mike Binder does an excellent job of crafting the story so that he doesn't reveal too much too soon, and keeps the audience's interest.
One of the most excellent components of this film is how real it feels. Charlie Fineman and Alan Johnson are not real people, but their story resonates with the Americans who lived through September 11th. This could be anyone you encounter on a daily basis. The illustration and the storytelling of the writer/director and the actors feels incredibly real, and that really appeals to my taste in films, generally speaking.
Of course, I'm certain people who haven't seen this will cringe at my saying this, but my favorite element of the film was Sandler. As I often reveal to anyone who talks to me for more than 20 minutes, I have an obsession with comedic actors in serious roles (like Jim Carrey in 'The Truman Show' or Steve Carell in 'Dan in Real Life') but this is one of my favorites. What Sandler brings to the table in this film, I can't see many other actors bringing. There are incredible, really funny moments (you know when you share a moment with your former college roommate?), and then you see Charlie Fineman's obviously tormented soul. As he opens up to Alan, Charlie hits barriers and emotional hurdles, and Sandler channels them brilliantly. On several occasions I've been able to catch Sandler take on a serious role, and I've yet to be disappointed.
The above is not to take away from the acting of the rest of the cast, either. Pinkett Smith is great as the wife of emotionally drained and frustrated Alan, and Tyler's Angela (the psychiatrist) is a perfect casting fit. Sutherland also has a minor role later in the movie, and he is brilliant (as per usual). Though his dramatic chops are no secret, Cheadle deserves a lot of credit for the performance he gives in this film as well. His Alan is dragged down by the details of his every day life. After reaching out to Charlie, Alan has a renewed sense of self that impacts all the areas of his life. Cheadle is perfect for the part, and his scenes with Sandler have so much emotion packed into them.
This film tops my list of overlooked movies. I vaguely remember it hitting theaters when I was 18 years old and transitioning from high school to college, but my first viewing came from the same DVD a few days later. In my research for this post (which I actually do from time to time) I read a lot of critical reviews, and the worse they got, the more impressions I got that the critics had a short attention span (though it did make me want to be a better writer). Paying attention and following the story really pays off in this film's case.
As I said above, an attention span that will last you for two hours and 4 minutes will really pay off for you in this endeavor. It is not for everyone, but if you have a good attention span and are in the mood for a realistic, human, dramatic journey, I'd recommend you dive in. If you've never seen Sandler be serious, this would be a good starter (there are others).


The official '1001 Movies' list includes the following movies from 2007 - The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, La Vie En Rose, No Country For Old Men, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Surfwise, The Bourne Ultimatum, Paranormal Activity


Nicholas Hogan
For more from Nicholas, check out his site 'The Archives Report'.