REIGN OVER ME
starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler
written and directed by Mike Binder
written and directed by Kevin Munroe
by Walter Chaw In response to the charge that critics are "downers" because they're too judgmental, a colleague and friend said on a panel that I participated in that some films only deserve judgment. It's a wonderfully bleak declaration, and dead on--think of it as an expansion of Pauline Kael's belief that no one ever takes the time to bash terrible pictures. But there's more to it than simply that brittle shattering of cinema's impregnable mythic mystique. I think certain movies deflect even judgment--movies that are the exact equivalent of, say, Michael Bolton and Kenny G collaborating on a cover of a Richard Marx song. Rail against them if you must, but there's no sport in it, and definitely no swaying of the assembled masses. There are films that are what they are, deserving neither praise nor condemnation in providing precisely the comfort of a tattered terry cloth robe worn ritualistically until disintegration. It's possible to meticulously, ruthlessly, intellectually deconstruct the aesthetic and functional properties of a favourite pair of sneakers, you know, but it's masturbatory and redundant and like swatting a fly with a Buick. I suspect that deep down everyone knows films like Reign Over Me and TMNT are as worthless as a plug nickel, that their appeal lies entirely in the fact that they'll present no surprises along with their usual meek payload of cheap emotional prattle and pocket uplift. And I'm not saying there's nothing wrong with that, either--I'm just saying I feel like I don't have much more to say after reviewing the same fucking movie about a dozen times a year.