Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

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

2 Star Empire Rating
Strange Magic
2 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Love
3 Star Empire Rating
3 Star Empire Rating
Misery Loves Comedy
3 Star Empire Rating

Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

Reign Over Me
Sandler gets serious, Cheadle gets the girls

submit to reddit

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
Browse more images »

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is represented by Adam Sandler’s Charlie, a shambling wreck of a man who, five years after the death of his family, has withdrawn into a world of computer-game fantasies and barricaded himself in with compulsive kitchen remodelling.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

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

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

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Read Empire's official verdict

Empire Meets Joely Richardson
On Maggie, Arnie and Event Horizon

Sven Hansen-Løve Talks Eden
The house DJ on France’s answer to 24 Hour Party People

100 Greatest Movie Characters
The complete list of your all-time favourite heroes and villains

Vote Now For Your Favourite TV Shows
Pick your top five - if you can...

David O. Russell Talks Through First Joy Trailer
The writer/director breaks down the Jennifer Lawrence Oscar hopeful

Paul Rudd Is Awesome
Being awesome: from Clueless to Ant-Man

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)