Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sandler's Dramatic Move Reigns Over Me

The movie going experience has been dreadful for the past year or so. I'm just not finding movies that draw me to the theater (and I am a BIG movie theater geek) as in previous years. I also have to take the wife into the equation. It has to have some element she'll like (humor usually is the best bet or the occasional hunk i.e Brad Pitt or George Clooney.)

So surprisingly we went to Reign Over Me last weekend. Adam Sandler in what appeared to be a seriously serious movie. His prior attempt Punch Drunk Love was just quirky. Good I thought but Paul Thomas Anderson's characters are more quirky serious than dramatic quirky.

I had to see it though. Even if there wasn't any outright humorous quality and Sandler channeling a Dylanesque mane of hair knocked him out of any hot actor category I'm sure for my wife. I just had to see if Sandler could pull it off.

When comic actors make the foray in drama it can have uneven results. Carrey is a prime example of that with The Majestic and the Number 23 pretty much falling to the wayside. His best dramatic work was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and most of The Truman Show and maybe The Man on the Moon but for me that ventured more into mimicry. Robin Williams pretty much made it though he's slipped back into mindless comedies again. However, the only one who made a successful leap the last couple decades is Tom Hanks. Remember a comedy he was a active part in? Remember The Bachelor Party or dare I say Bosom Buddies?


So Sandler is going down a lonesome road for comedic actors. But interestingly enough I really don't think Sandler brought the drama to ROM as much as he was a comic foil for Don Cheadle. Which was alittle unexpected. This movie was Sandler being a recluse over the death of his family on 9/11. Serious stuff right? Not really a chance for too many fart jokes. Sandler instead infused a quiet type of humor. Sandler did bring some of his usual insult humor to the show however he had a companion in Don Cheadle's character to bounce it off. These are two old college friends reconnecting after a traumatic event and they are fall back into that chummy college humor style dialogue. Without that the movie would have sunk quickly into a dry melodrama. But that isn't to say that Sandler didn't chop on the dramatic bit alittle with this role. There are several scenes where the familiar Sandler has been put aside and Sandler tries (and admirably succeeds) a new character.

The theater was packed for the movie which always makes the experience 100 times better (though the late comers also rile my feathers they do post the movie times in like a million places right? And yet people arrive right as the movie starts even 15 minutes into the movie....okay I'm trying to suppress the movie geek) The audience was totally engaged like a roller coaster going with the laughs and the quiet dramatic moments especially Sandler's moment of glory where his character does a pretty good reveal ( no spoilers here folks) even though I think it went just alittle long.

Although I was introduced to Mike Binder's movies through The Upside of Anger which was in its own right a good flick with Kevin Costner and Joan Allen, and with the fact that 4 months into 2007 there has been only maybe 2-3 pics so far this year that had any slight urge to see, ROM is at the top. It isn't up for Best Pic mind you. Just like last year with Little Miss Sunshine a great ensemble movie which probably should have gotten the Best Pic Nod for 2006. But against a behemoth like The Departed with (let's count) 5 huge actors and a couple more smaller ones (Alec Baldwin alone made the movie for me) it just wasn't gonna make it. Okay, so back to Mike Binder. I think he is progressing (even playing a reserved Sugarman in the pic which I love pointing who the director is to my wife when they play a role. More directors should do that..well not so much for Tarantino.) Anyway, I'm getting distracted...

Okay, so ROM only made 7.5 mil over the weekend which doesn't portend too well to it being a blockbuster and solidifying Sandler in the dramatic role. With the packed house on a Saturday night in Minnesota when it was usually warm (in the 70's) made me think it's gotta be better than the 8th spot. But I was wrong.

Luckily I have a few big tent pole flicks (Spiderman, Pirates of Caribbean and Shrek) to draw me back to the theater again this year cause otherwise the pickings are sparse. And it's unfortunate that this gigantic blockbuster in-the-wait films are they only thing grabbing my attention down the road for flicks this year. I'm sure I'll run across a couple small ones that hopefully make it a better than could be.

Hollywood is gonna be reaching a crisis point here soon if the trend for low ball high price bombs continue to dominate the screens. But this pending crisis sends a message to me that I need to get writing cause I like to believe that, while Sandler's movie inspires me, I need to get home quick so I can start changing that outcome.

I'll touch on why I think that issue may be coming about with later posts.


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