Drink-sodden New York writer Sandra Bullock enters rehab, where she learns a little something about life, love and kicking the habit.
Just as Erin Brockovich transformed Julia Roberts' screen image, so that film's screenwriter Susannah Grant aims to give a similar down-and-dirty makeover to cinema's other favourite girl-next-door, Sandra Bullock. And for part of 28 Days, at least, it works, with the actress shedding her normally wholesome image to waltz around drunkenly, pop various kinds of pills and at one point stagger across a field in her underwear, having just crashed a limo into the porch of an unsuspecting house. This is clearly not the sweet young thing of While You Were Sleeping, and for the first half hour or so it's an impressive transformation.
However, from the moment Bullock is dispatched off to the kind of rehab centre where the inmates get to hold hands and sing, it becomes glaringly obvious that good old saintly Sandy will return before long. Any game attempts at rebellion - shrugging around in black, acting petulantly towards Buscemi's laid-back counsellor (his is the best performance), being surly towards her drying out colleagues - are soon crushed when a botched escape attempt leaves her limping, and flashbacks of the past conspire to convince her that a life of sobriety isn't necessarily such a bad thing.
28 Days isn't a particularly bad film, just a seen-it-all-before jaunt through the world of institutions and inner demons. There are lots of opportunities for conflict and real drama, and the relationships are well realised. But the film throws away far too many chances and relies too much for laughs on the continuing antics of a dreadful daytime soap that the patients are inexplicably hooked on, and an ending which goes for a cheap gag rather than tying up any of its loose ends. Perhaps annoyingly for her, it also ensures that Bullock's good-girl image remains intact.
With Bullock struggling to convince as a reckless alkie, this unconvincing drama is almost enough to drive you to drink.