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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.94%
Worth A Look46.88%
Average: 25%
Pretty Bad: 9.38%
Total Crap: 7.81%

5 reviews, 34 user ratings

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28 Days
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by Erik Childress

"Bullock's Strong Performance Can't Save Lightweight Rehab Story"
3 stars

Gwen is impossible to love. Now just how is that possible when you’ve got the ever-lovable Sandra Bullock in the role? Actually this may be the closest she has ever come to questionable behavior and unlikable actions during the course of a film. But it’s within the confines of a script that tries to find a safe middle ground and ends up giving one only half the film they came to see.

After showing up drunk and ruining her sister’s (Elizabeth Perkins) wedding, Gwen proceeds to steal a limo and drive it through a suburban house. She is then sentenced to 28 days in a place that seems more like summer camp than rehabilitation. It reminded me a lot of a retreat I went on for two days in Catholic High School where everyone talked about each other’s problems in groups and were allowed limited resources to limit the boredom. This clinic has group sing-a-longs, forts to climb, and even horseys. Doesn’t seem like a bad place to be for rehab, unless you’re like Gwen, whose attitude (I hoped) would be a starting gate to take a few jabs at the touchy-feely nature of institutions like this. But 28 Days isn’t sure where it wants to go. It seems right that humor would have to exist somewhere in this rock bottom landscape, but there’s such a gray area amidst the combination of comedy and drama, that its hard to care either way.
Supporting characters kind of float in and out, popping up at convenient times to advance the story, and it’s your standard collection. You have the troubled teenage heroin addict (Azura Skye), the comic relief womanizer who only says funny things (comedian Mike O’Malley), and the grumpy ex-doctor (Reni Santoni). If you blink, you might swear you even saw Diane Ladd playing one of the patients. The character who draws the most laughs is the gay German dancer (Alan Tudyk), whose final line on the fort climb draws the biggest out-of-nowhere laugh. The least interesting is the celebrity baseball player, played by the ever-so-dry Viggo Mortensen, who is making a nice career out of playing boring characters that don’t belong in the movies they’re in. The most interesting character, outside of Gwen, is her boyfriend, played by Dominic West. He could have been reduced to just a jerk and a bad influence, but he seems to generally care about her (giving a nice speech on a rowboat about how people mask their pain), and the resolution of their situation needed another rewrite. Steve Buscemi does some really nice work here as the head of the clinic, but after some early confrontations with Gwen and a nice recollection he gives paralleling his own plight to hers, he is all but forgotten and reduced to what seemed like less than 15 minutes of screen time.
One of the crucial mistakes the film makes is to pass off a little of the blame for Gwen’s alcoholism by supplying her with a drunk mother, hence the source of her “disease” (another word relieving such cases of their own responsibility). And while I appreciated the moment when her sister tells her that they grew up under the same roof and she turned out fine, it comes too late in the proceedings to get that implant out of our head. We’re never given a clear idea of what exactly Gwen does for a living, and worse (except for one brief late scene) we rarely see her do it. As far as we’re concerned we’re given a picture of an irresponsible party girl, with no active involvement in anything but her next bottle. It’s also a cliché in movies like this, where it’s only a matter of time before one member of the cast is lost to an overdose or suicide (see Cuckoo’s Nest, Girl Interrupted) and no prizes will be awarded for guessing the winner (or loser) here.
28 Days was originally sold as a big dramatic vehicle for Bullock. The film’s trailers suggested the middle ground of dramatic comedy that eventually came through but the TV ads play up the wacky comedy. I wish the film would have picked a route and ran with it. The idea of a dark or even wacky comedy set within a rehab clinic sounded promising, especially if it played up the fascination people have (in and out of the clinics) with celebrities being guests of the establishment. There’s even an amusing running joke, a source of many of the best laughs, and that’s a faux soap opera called “Santa Cruz” with over-the-top acting and ridiculous plotlines set within a hospital. If someone had looked a little more thoroughly at this script, they would have noticed they had nothing but a soap opera on their hands in the first place.

I’ve always praised Bullock for being one of the most naturalistic actresses working today. Sure, some of her roles and some of her movies weren’t worthy of her talent but when they are such as Speed or While You Were Sleeping (which I supported an Oscar nomination for), it can be magical. 28 Days falls in the former category, yet it still entertaining on a kind of video rental level. It’s never boring, often very funny and Sandra Bullock gives a very good performance in a role that plays against type and asks us not to like most of her behavior. But in the end, try as she might, we still love her because she’s stuck with a script that fuses the light moments with the dark ones too unsuccessfully.

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originally posted: 04/15/00 13:26:01
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User Comments

2/02/13 David Hollingsworth Pretty great! 4 stars
12/15/07 Pamela White sandra makes an addict movie funny 4 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini Boooooring! 2 stars
10/07/06 William Goss Tonally uneven dramedy that stumbles about like a, well, drunk and never finds its footing. 2 stars
8/17/05 ES One funny line agood movie does not make= Bullock please stop! 1 stars
6/19/04 Phil M. Aficionado It's not really a good film in some ways. How come I liked it? Sandra, maybe. 4 stars
12/10/03 Samuel not much! 2 stars
7/08/03 Pam Good movie, acting and story line. 4 stars
3/15/03 arwen oddstar the only bad thing was her alchoholism was pinned on everything but herself. 5 stars
9/02/02 movie guy greay 5 stars
8/15/02 I Can't Swim See 'Requiem for a Dream' for the reality; see this for the Hallmark version of addiction 1 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie teaches about where people will end up if they drink and do drugs 5 stars
3/02/02 Xaver Good story...lightweight drama...some good humor 3 stars
2/12/02 Butterbean Just a sweet movie that wasn't as bad as people make it out to be 4 stars
2/08/02 Regurja Tate Sandra Bullock at her worst (saying a lot!) Title not movie's length; just seems that way. 1 stars
8/30/01 Gary Sandra really needs to stop digging any deeper. 2 stars
6/23/01 Justin Cheung Totally enjoyed it! Nuff said. 5 stars
4/23/01 X By-the-numbers rehab drama with cliches up the wazoo. Viggo rises above it at times 2 stars
10/05/00 terry c average movie made better by bullock 3 stars
10/03/00 Jed An underrated yet overlong consistently funny dramedy for bullock/buscemi,etc. 4 stars
9/30/00 Trina I cried 4 times 4 stars
9/28/00 Monday Morning Dramatic comedy? Um...yeah...right. Cough, cough. 2 stars
8/15/00 Chickiepoo Sandra Bullock can't act worth shit! 1 stars
7/09/00 JonnyA I liked it a lot, good characters, performances, etc. 4 stars
5/30/00 PEAKY HIGH BOY SANDRA BULLOCK is excellent in this DRAMA/COMEDY that will make you smile 5 stars
5/28/00 Belinda How pathetic! 1 stars
5/25/00 tom rush entertaining 4 stars
4/29/00 Sandy Stupid ideas, sloppy ending; but good Bullock, great Dominic West, and fantastic Buscemi 3 stars
4/28/00 Robin Mingle I thought the movie was absolutely wonderful. Full of entertainment. Sandra was excellent. 5 stars
4/21/00 tom rush interesting 4 stars
4/19/00 Chartsy Critics elsewhere have been harsh, but a pretty cute little movie 3 stars
4/17/00 "Persnickety" critics are being way too harsh with this movie, it is cute, and sends a good message! 4 stars
4/16/00 M.gunnerQuist Sandra Bullock fans will love it. Critics expected Macbeth or something-- I mean come on!! 4 stars
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  14-Apr-2000 (PG-13)


  25-May-2000 (M)

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