Sandler’s monotonous angry guy shtick was used to great effect in Punch-Drunk Love, but it doesn’t cut it here.
Five years after the towers fell, Hollywood has finally cottoned on to the emotional mileage of 9/11, and if it’s good enough for Oliver Stone, so too must it be for America’s clown prince Adam Sandler.
But viewers expecting Dude, Where’s My Twin Tower? might be surprised to find Sandler ditching the fart gags and thesping it up Jim Carrey-style. He’s done it before with moderate success, but this low-key indie sees his acting muscles stretched well beyond their limits.
The film centres on wealthy Manhattanite Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle), a bored family man who one day runs into his college roommate Charlie Fineman (Sandler). Fineman’s wife and daughters were killed on 9/11, and he has never accepted his grief, regressing instead into a sullen man-child. Fineman helps the uptight Johnson rediscover his inner bloke, and in turn Johnson helps his friend escape this emotional paralysis.
Sandler’s monotonous angry guy shtick was used to great effect in Punch-Drunk Love, but it doesn’t cut it here. This level of inner turmoil requires more than his one-note performance, and the film becomes flat and dull because of it.
Though Cheadle is fine as the straight man, by the time Sandler has his obligatory teary breakdown your patience will long since have evaporated. Alas the film continues, sinking into a mire of unlikely coincidences and implausible courtroom scenes as Fineman’s in-laws try to have him committed.
Most problematic, though, is the role that 9/11 plays in the film. Fineman didn’t need to lose his family like this; for all the relevance it has to the plot, they might as well have died in a car crash.
As a metaphor, it’s distressingly empty – unlike Fineman, America addresses its grief with embarrassing regularity, through memorial monuments, Oprah specials and international warfare. Reign Over Me uses that day in September with breathtaking cynicism, as a device to imbue a shallow TV movie with self-important socio-political depth.
Frankly, fart gags would have been more appropriate.
Adam Sandler does 9/11. The Apocalypse looms.
Cheadle is watchable, but boredom sets in long before it ends.
Overlong, overwrought and overwhelmingly cynical.