A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
An attorney in a rush to make a court appointment to file legal papers involving a multi-million dollar trust accidentally collides with an alcoholic insurance salesman, who also is a rush for a court appointment involving the custody of his children. The attorney leaves the scene of the accident and strands the salesman, causing him to miss his custody hearing. During the process of the post-crash discussion, the attorney accidentally drops the papers he needs to present in court. The judge gives him until the end of the day to present the papers and thus begins a cat and mouse game between the proponents. A few questionable actions later on both parties' part, they finally start questioning their actions and their lives. In the end, both come to new understanding of what is important and appear to be set in new ethical and moral directions. Contains mild violence and profanity. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Now, I'm not going to slap this movie on my Top 10 list or say it deserves an Oscar nod, like many critics have exclaimed, but I will say it's something different. First of all, it's real. Not an artificial Hollywood shoot 'em up or disaster flick. This is a film about the human struggle. There's no violence or sex, and if it weren't for about 7 uses of the "f" word "Changing Lanes" could've easily earned a PG-13. So don't let the R-rating fool you.
There are three main reasons why I checked out this movie: Samuel, L, Jackson. Needless to say, he's a terrific actor and worth seeing in whatever he does. He's one of my favorites, and he delivers another powerhouse performance, taking on a role somewhat different from his recent roles: he plays an average Joe. We're introduced to his character, Doyle Gibson, who's a very nice guy simply haunted by mistakes in his past, one being alcoholism, which led to a divorce. And now he's attending AA meetings and buying a house for his two kids, hoping he will attain custody of them. Ben Affleck is good and charismatic. I didn't sympathize as much with his character, but that doesn't make him an antagonist. Neither characters are saints, nor are they sinners. That's good, because it's never completely effective to include characters who are entirely sympathetic. They're both mature adults, but they resort to juvenile acts of revenge in hopes that they can undo what happened. Sydney Pollack is great, as Affleck's egotistical father-in-law, proving his talents in front of the camera are just as fine as his talents behind the camera. I wanted to see more of the beautiful Amanda Peet, but she only has approximately 7 minutes of screen time. So I'm guessing that topless scene I heard mentioned didn't make it to the final cut. Oh, well. William Hurt, who seems to do a movie every 5 years, unfortunately has a small, thankless role as an alcohol counselor.
The script is well-written, and the film is a lot more character-driven than ones of recent years. I loved that scene in the bar where Sam Jackson sits in a lonely bar, listening in on two white guys badmouthing Tiger Woods. He lashes back with a terrific monologue, and later ends up punching them out. Some directors would've cut that scene out, overly concerned about the film's pacing, but I'm glad this time that wasn't the case. However, the ending seems a little fake. It's just too happy for its own good. But that's the only element of the movie I found forced.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
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