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Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

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Saffron Burrows
Jada Pinkett Smith
Liv Tyler
Adam Sandler
Don Cheadle.
Mike Binder.
Mike Binder.
Running Time
124 minutes

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Reign Over Me
Sandler gets serious, Cheadle gets the girls

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Alan Johnson (Cheadle), a New York dentist, runs into his college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Sandler), by chance after Fineman loses his family in the September 11 tragedy. The two re-spark their friendship, beginning a tentative journey towards recovery...

Reign Over Me
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Last year saw the first major Hollywood releases to engage the tragedy of September 11, 2001. This small but touching film is, perhaps, the next step, treating that almost operatic cataclysm as background to a small personal disaster. It’s a choice that some may find distasteful, but which works well in separating the mythical status of a day that shook the world from the lasting cost incurred.
That human catastrophe is represented by Adam Sandler’s Charlie, a shambling wreck of a man who, five years after the death of his family, has withdrawn into a world of computer-game fantasies and barricaded himself in with compulsive kitchen remodelling. Much touted as the mouthy comedian’s ‘serious’ movie and a chance to prove himself as a ‘proper’ actor (everyone apparently having forgotten Punch-Drunk Love), Sandler certainly displays the tortured hair and obsessive tics of a grief-stricken depressive (or possibly Bob Dylan). Even though his temper occasionally flares, Sandler achieves the remarkable by not reminding us of the tantruming in his Happy Gilmore heyday, and even conveys a few heartbreaking moments of emotional clarity.
But his best efforts are quietly eclipsed by Don Cheadle, captivating as the old friend who tries, somewhat ineptly, to help. What’s almost unprecedented about Cheadle’s character is how unstintingly normal he is. He stresses about his colleagues, about money, about the accusation of sexual harassment made by a possibly deranged patient at his dentistry practice (Saffron Burrows, in a scene-stealing cameo). Cheadle is aided by a beautifully written script that also gives us a wife (Jada Pinkett Smith) who is sometimes nagging but never shrewish, and a renewed friendship with Sandler that plays like a joyous and somehow innocent return to their frat-boy past, allowing both to escape the pains and responsibilities of adult life — until, that is, life catches up.
 Writer-director Mike Binder is at his best in tackling domestic discord, but he just can’t find an ending here, relying instead on a hackneyed courtroom finale. Even that has treats — especially Donald Sutherland’s dauntless, prickly judge — but it’s a superfluous exclamation point on a film that’s emphatic enough already.

Cheadle’s finest hour and proof that Sandler can act. Funny, sad and flawed — like its characters.

Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Reign Over Me
Empire Star Rating

Well acted, surprised by Sandlers performance most of all, and its nice to see a film that just about avoids the sentamentality of "that day" - the what if's and why for's, etc. The script is a little patchy as it would have been nice to see more from Smith, Tyler and Burrows, and it would've have been nice to see more of Charlie being left alone with either of them, and how he'd react to them rather than just the snippets that we got. But I thought this was quite a strong film. The a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pipkin3 at 15:19, 05 July 2008 | Report This Post

strong performances and a solid script made this entertaining until the very end. However, it's incrediblly flawed in many other aspects from the start and overstays it's welcome by about fifteen to twenty minutes. The first of my 9/11 based dramas i expect. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 11:44, 01 June 2008 | Report This Post

Reign Over Me

Don Cheadle is as usual, brilliant. What made the film for me though were the cameo appearances especially Donald Sutherland. He seems to be defining "Gravitas" at the moment. 3 stars Empire?? The shame about that is that it seems to contradict your own review. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Winch at 11:55, 31 May 2008 | Report This Post

Actually i thought the movie was quite poor, the directing failed on many occassions and the script most of all over simplified the scope of such a tradegy. Baggy clothes and funny accent dont make up for good acting, although sandler had his moments. Cheadle though was pretty amazing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by iva at 19:41, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post

Thorughly enjoyable with an amazing, in the true sense of the word, performance from Sandler. Donald Sutherland's cameo was another high point! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Silver Fox at 11:59, 23 January 2008 | Report This Post

Straight To The TOP 10

Three stars, I just lost a little faith in Empire's reviews. Trying my best not to use stronger and less appropriate language, but are you having a laugh, I'm not too sure if it was just the mood I'm in but after just watching it, that show was fantastic. Not once during the entire film did I get distracted by something else or did my mind wonder and that is coming from a person with the attention span of a 6 month old baby. The two leads were excellent. I can't say enough. Only thing, any type... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David Mc Carthy at 00:21, 27 November 2007 | Report This Post

Reign Over me

Don Cheadle is superb in this moving drama, and Adam Sandler can act- much better than some of his lame comedies of late. Much better than any of the reviews ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 21:47, 23 April 2007 | Report This Post

Cheadle great, as ever, Sandler passable (though far more tolerable than the lousy comedies he makes his bread & butter) it's a good idea, reasonably well executed but it feels over-long & sub-plots are opened only to be dropped when there appears nowhere for them to go. Enjoyable, but maybe a better DVD experience than a cinema one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by felix sore foot at 19:49, 22 April 2007 | Report This Post

Cheadle great, as ever, Sandler passable (though far more tolerable than the lousy comedies he makes his bread & butter) it's a good idea, reasonably well executed but it feels over-long & sub-plots are opened only to be dropped when there appears nowhere for them to go. Enjoyable, but maybe a better DVD experience than a cinema one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by felix sore foot at 19:49, 22 April 2007 | Report This Post

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