Every now and then a movie comes out which is directed entirely at one
audience. I'm not talking about a film like "Hanging Up", which is directed
entirely at middle aged women; or "The Beach", which has a target audience
comprised only of teenage girls. I mean that the target audience of Sandra
Bullock's "28 Days" must be people who are, or have been, addicted to
alcohol, drugs, or sex. At least this is the conclusion I've reached since I
have never been addicted to anything, and I got almost nothing from this
film. I think if you have been an addict at some point in your life, the
trials of a woman going through rehab would have some meaning for you. That
isn't to say "28 Days" doesn't have its share of funny moments for the rest
of us, but the majority of the film will most likely mean nothing to you.
Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) was always the life of the party. She and her
boyfriend, Jasper (Dominic West), lead lives which consist of drinking hard,
sleeping in late, and forgetting about the previous evening's activities.
However, when she ruins her sister's (Elizabeth Perkins) wedding and smashes
a limo into some poor soul's house, she is sentenced to twenty eight days of
rehab. While in rehab she meets a host of unusual fellow addicts like Eddie
(Viggo Mortensen), a major league ball player who is addicted to cocaine and
sex; and Gerhardt (Alan Tudyk), a gay, German stripper who is addicted to
god only knows what. She also meets her therapist, Cornell (an oddly sane
Steve Buscemi), who is a recovered compulsive gambler and drug addict. While
she is convinced she has no problem at first, it slowly dawns on Gwen that
she may have a strong addiction afterall.
There were a couple of things about "28 Days" that I liked. First of all, I
thought Sandra Bullock did a great job in her first leading role in some
time. After a series of flops ("Forces of Nature", "Hope Floats") she needed
to show that she could carry a movie on her shoulders alone (though I may
have enjoyed it, I must admit that "Gun Shy" was not the movie needed to
revive her career). Second, the humor may fall flat most of the time, but
there is an occasional truly hilarious scene. Now, besides the fact that the
movie clearly wasn't directed at a person like me, there are a few other
things working against "28 Days". First, the soundtrack does nothing for the
film. Filled with high spirited songs, everything played throughout the
movie felt totally out of place. Second, flashbacks are shot in a confused,
disjointed home video style which doesn't add anything. Third, I've seen few
movies that have underdeveloped their characters to such an extent. For
example, Steve Buscemi plays what could have been a very interesting
character, but he is given almost no screen time.
As for the cast, the supporting actors would probably have done just fine if
given more to work with. Steve Buscemi shows that he can play a normal
character as opposed to the psychopaths he plays in "Reservoir Dogs" and
"Fargo". Viggo Mortensen ("Crimson Tide", "G.I. Jane") nicely underplays his
part as Gwen's potential love interest, but again, he is given very little
screen time. The funniest supporting actor is certainly Alan Tudyk ("Patch
Adams"), who shamelessly overacts, but in such a hilarious way that it is
easy to forgive. As good as these actors may be, they can do nothing with
these roles because we are given no information about the characters except
that they have all been addicted to something at some point in their lives.
As far as direction goes, Betty Thomas ("Doctor Doolittle", "Private Parts")
keeps the film strangely frantic in pacing. For example, Gwen ends up in
rehab about eight minutes into the movie, before we get to know anything
about her. You can also add "28 Days" to that ever growing list of movies
that don't exactly end, but just sort of stop in mid scene. I suppose the
only people I can recommend this movie to are recovered or recovering
alcoholics and former drug addicts. I can't quite recommend it to fans of
Sandra Bullock since she has certainly had better material to work with in
the past. Go rent "Speed" or "Demolition Man" (yes, I like "Demolition Man")
unless you're dying for a chick flick. "28 Days" runs only 103 minutes, but
it feels quite a bit longer. I give it three out of five stars.
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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now.
* * * * - Great flick, try and catch this one.
* * * - Okay movie, hits and misses.
* * - Pretty bad, see it only if you have nothing better to do.
* - One of the worst movies ever made. See it only if you enjoy pain.
Copyright © 2000 John Beachem