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28 Days

Rated [PG-13], minutes
Starring Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Dominic West, Diane Lane
Screenplay by Susannah Grant
Directed by Betty Thomas

IN SHORT: For once, a Bullock flick I didn't like. . .

and before we get to it, Sandra Bullock sat for CrankyCritic® StarTalk(Paul Fischer is such a lucky dude . . . though his fiancee is fuming.) Click for the words.

Even while going through the alcoholic/pill-popper withdrawal that occurs early on in 28 Days, the closest thing to a "heavy" flick Sandra Bullock has done in the last few years, try as she might Bullock just can't look bad. And while you might assume that, since the premise is party-girl-in-forced-rehab, this flick is one bit of bad news after another, you'd be wrong. It's not a giggle a minute, let's-make-fun-of-the-addicts, laugh-fest either, though there is a helluva lot more humor in the piece than you would expect. Once again, we point the finger at director Betty Thomas who has, since moving up to the movie director's chair after many years as a teevee actor on an "obscure" show called Hill Street Blues), taken material that we all thought was impossible to bring to the big screen (last time out with Howard Stern's Private Parts) and made the impossible happen. A fistful of talent and the earnest endeavors of her cast almost do it again. Almost.

That's about as close to a rave as you're gonna get from me, 'cuz over all this is one of those situations where good intentions fall flat and we get just an OK movie.

Gwen Cummings (Bullock) is the party girl. She likes The Clash, beer (or anything else suitably alcoholic to wash down the Vicodan pills she pops) and night long sloppy sex with boyfriend Jasper (Dominic West). Not necessarily in that order. When a nightmare hangover pushes Gwen to reup the stupor levels, she ruins her sister Lily's wedding and in short order trashes a wedding cake, a limousine, and a suburban home (complete with ornamental lawn jockey, so un-PC these days, on its front lawn). Given the choice of jail time or 28 days in rehab, Gwen chooses door number two. . .

. . . and is welcomed with open arms to Serenity Glen, a lovely oasis of tranquility and positive affirmation out in the country. Here, Lawrence Welk blares from the public address system, Bill Wither's "Lean on Me" is transformed into a life enhancing chant and your first day includes a full search of your possessions and confiscation of any cell phone, coke, booze, pills, heroin, pot, syringes or glass objects (heck, if you had to chant "Lean On Me" a dozen times a day, you'd wanna slash your wrists, too!) that you'd try to sneak in.

Cigarettes are fine, though. Virtually all the characters smoke like fiends. That may be the way it is in real life but that little inconsistency is like a stone stuck in your shoe that you can't shake out. It's always calling attention to itself. Onwards...

While the flick is filled with characters whose backgrounds are colorful and just well developed enough that they're not stereotypes -- Gwen's 17 year old junkie roommate Andrea (Azura Skye), a famous baseball player (Viggo Mortensen), a gay German guy (Alan Tudyk) whose problem even I couldn't figure out -- Gwen must battle the question of whether to dump her enabler (that would be Jasper) who willingly smuggles in booze and pills (One at Gwen's request. The other as an attempt to lure her back to the Dark Side) or shovel horsepoop with a smiling face (it's therapeutic) for a month and then get back to "normal".

As proof that there is life after rehabilitation, we get to meet Counselor Cornell (Steve Buscemi). Buscemi's casting alone is such a stroke of genius that I can only report that the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole. Nor is it a total disaster. The plus is that the flick doesn't resort to stereotypes for a cheap laugh. The minus is that I didn't care even a whit for Bullock's Gwen.

That lack of sympathy doesn't come from my own baggage, which I've always laid those out so you can decide if I've tinted the picture: I'm virulently anti-drunk driving, having lost a dear friend to one. On the flip side I go through a self-imposed detox every three months off the addictive medications that keep me alive. Personally, I think one offsets the other and now you know.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 28 Days, he would have paid...


Pay per view level. As much as I adore Sandra Bullock (yeah, I do), I didn't adore 28 Days.

Click to buy films by Betty Thomas
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Click to buy films starring Viggo Mortensen

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.