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A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief.
Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) has a good, successful life. He has a successful dentistry practice, a loving wife and great children. He should be set, right? Not so, for he feels trapped by his responsibilities to his family and career, never allowing himself time to do the things he wants to do. He has no friends, no personal hobbies and no freedom outside his family and career. One day in a chance encounter on the streets of New York, he runs into his old college roommate Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler). Charlie lost his wife and children on 9/11 and has never recovered. His life was shattered and the only way he was able to survive the pain of their loss was to repress those painful memories and lock them all away in the back of his mind. Thanks to their life insurance and government subsidies, Charlie hasn't worked since, but his life is still in shambles – having never accepted their loss or dealt with his emotions, he lives alone and out of touch with the world. Seeing his old roommate again, he doesn't recognize him at first – he had buried so many memories over the years and Alan was among those as well. With their friendship slowly rekindled, they begin spending a lot of time together – each glad to finally have a real friend to hang out with; each becoming a lifeline for the other. Alan really enjoys Charlie's freedom (no job and no responsibilities) and Charlie really enjoys having a friend who will accept him for who he is and not remind him of his painful memories.
"Reign Over Me" is a good story about friendship and letting people just be themselves. When former college roommates Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler), and Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) meet up again; by chance on a Manhattan street corner. Five years after losing his family on 9/11 Charlie a once successful dentist has pretty much retreated from life, wanting to forget his past, and Alan is stunned to see the changes in his formerly gregarious friend. At the same time Alan is having problems of his own, instead enjoying his beautiful wife, children, and career he is overwhelmed by his own responsibilities. The rekindling of the friendship between the two men becomes almost like a lifeline, when both really need a trusted friend and someone who will let them be them.
Overall this was a really descent film. I was impressed with the chemistry between Sandler and Cheadle. The story was very well written and the plot was serious enough to get a good feeling for Fineman, but still humorous enough to keep everyone entertained. I thought the premise of the story could have been anyone personally affected by 9/11, even though this is not a movie about 9/11. Sandler has proved once again he can act in a semi-serious role and make a rally good movie.
Overall Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5). Re-Watch Value: High (I will purchase on DVD.)
Trivia: Exterior of Manhattan Criminal Courthouse is actually Baruch College located in NYC. Production paid a little under $7,000 (as well as clean up costs) to the school for the use of their exterior.
All in all, I'd give this movie 5 STARS (out of 5). Re-watch value: HIGH