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After getting into a car accident while drunk on the day of her sister's wedding, Gwen Cummings is given a choice between prison or a rehab center. She chooses rehab, but is extremely resistant to taking part in any of the treatment programs they have to offer, refusing to admit that she has an alcohol addiction. After getting to know some of the other patients, Gwen gradually begins to re-examine her life and see that she does, in fact, have a serious problem. The path to recovery will not be easy, and success will not be guaranteed or even likely, but she is now willing to give it a try. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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28 DAYS (2000) **1/2 Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West, Diane Ladd, Elizabeth Perkins, Steve Buscemi, Alan Tudyk, Michael o' Malley, Azura Skye, Reni Santoini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Margo Martindale, Loudan Wainwright III. (Dir: Betty Thomas)
Addiction is not funny nor is the suffering it inflicts upon the addict and their friends and family but then again all `taboo' subjects have been scrutinized in these politically correct times we live in and here Sandra Bullock, The Girl Next Door that her adoring public has embraced as America's Sweetheart, wades in hip deep into a difficult balancing act as alcoholic/drug abuser Gwen Cummings, in this comedy-drama with more hits than misses - the working title could have been `Party Girl, Interrupted.'
Gwen is a free-spirited New York City based writer who enjoys living it up with her equally party hearty beau Jasper (West) by drinking and binging into the wee hours even if it means nearly missing her older sister Lily's (Perkins) wedding the next day as they stumble to the proceedings nursing a severe hangover quickly remedied by more imbibing at the reception resulting in Gwen losing her balance on the dance floor upsetting the many tiered wedding cake. Undeterred by her scene-causing out-of-control ramifications, Gwen staggers to the newlyweds' limo and careens along a suburban area looking for a `cake shop' to replace the damaged goods only to have her smash the car into a nearby house.
Flash forward to her being sentenced to Serenity Glen, a rehabilitation clinic, the type that offers New Age-y touchie-feely bonding and chanting (`Together! Together! NOOOO Drugs!') and a no-nonsense counselor named Cornell (Buscemi in a nicely handled understated turn) who sees right through Gwen's anger and stubbornness as she attempts to disassociate herself from her chores, group therapy and sneaking pills in via Jasper. After a mishap involving Gwen falling from her window (after a weak attempt to rid herself from the pills), she limpingly begs Cornell for a chance to redeem herself. Her sarcasm slowly drifts away as she comes to grips with her co-dependency on booze and pharmaceuticals thanks largely to her depressed teenage roomie Andrea (Skye) and new patient, Eddie Boone (Mortensen), a baseball pitcher overcoming many addictions including casual sex.
The film works solely on the fresh-scrubbed sexy appeal of Bullock in her range from comic drunkeness (a la `Arthur') to her scary withdrawl and gumption to change her life for the better. The humor comes thankfully to her fellow in-house patients including a gay German dancer (Tudyk who comes across as Andy Dick in `Sprockets') and the parody of a soap opera (`Santa Cruz') that the entire group becomes.well addicted to. It's hard to believe that the subject of a chemically dependent person could be funny, but that isn't the point. The point is that it doesn't make light of the situation at all (including the all-too-forseeable overdose of one of the characters to underscore just how serious it is), but it succeeds on the `patients-running-the-asylum' scenario - sort of a cross-blend of `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', `Clean and Sober' and `M*A*S*H' with its hysterically, deadpanned homage of loudspeaker announcements.
Director Betty Thomas (`The Brady Bunch Movie', `Private Parts') serves her story by Susannah Grant (`Erin Brockovich') as best she can with interesting camera angles to distort the hyperreality of someone under the influence and able support including stand-up comic O'Malley (late of his short-lived eponymous sitcom) who harbors a not-so-secret crush on Bullock. Bullock does herself a service by starring in a tricky scenario by utilizing her natural acting style and stretching her chops both dramatically and comically.
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