WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Alcoholics have often been the subject of many movies in Hollywood as films like LEAVING LAS VEGAS and DRUNKS have portrayed the dark side of the bottle and its disastrous consequences. Released this year, 28 Days approaches the taboo subject with an interesting mix of comedy, romance and drama.
After undergoing one too many nights of binge drinking, Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) must confront her losing battle with alcoholism. Alienated from her family after having ruined her sisterís wedding and later arrested for drunk driving, a federal judge sentences her to 28 days in a rehab clinic. She reluctantly admits herself to the treatment facility and quickly encounters a colourful cast of fellow substance abusers.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
At times both touching and funny, this movie features Sandra Bullock doing what she does best, portray that "gosh darn sweet and lovable" character that has continually fuelled her Hollywood career. Admittedly, itís a role she plays very well and seems perfectly tailored for this genre of comedy/drama. I did enjoy the film but found that it sadly suffered from a severe case of predictability. You know, the troubled lead character must fight personal demons while in the process, helping others along her journey. Weíve seen this story before and we know how itís going to end, especially with the "bad influence" boyfriend subplot. What really irked me though, was the stereotyping of the characters in the rehab clinic. The writer seemed to create these cardboard cutout roles like the teenage heroin addict, the troubled sports star and homosexual neurotic. How original. I also became increasingly irritated with the excessive use of flashback scenes which feature the use of brown filters and shaky camera work. How creative. The movie does have some very funny moments, particularly from the gay German patient with his hilarious one-liners and the fictional Santa Cruz soap opera (more on this later). Simply put, itís an average movie with a completely unoriginal script.
I mentioned earlier my amusement with Santa Cruz, a television show featured within the film. This hysterical satire spoofs the worst daytime television has to offer, the mid-afternoon soap operas. With intentionally badly written dialogue ("Just because Iím sleeping with a man doesnít mean Iím gay. I wonder if I can get tickets to the Liza Minelli show?") and even worse acting, Santa Cruz made 28 Days a funny movie. To my delight, weíre treated to a complete 24 minute actual episode of the show. Filmed entirely for the DVD, I canít tell you how hard I laughed at the dead-on lampoons and cheesy storylines. The disc also features a small HBO "Making of" documentary, that includes behind the scenes interviews with all the cast members. Interestingly enough, thereís an added feature called "How to Make a Gum Wrapper Chain" which explains step by step something Sandra Bullock does during the movie to alleviate her nerves. A clever little extra which I thought was kind of cool seeing as how I wondered how they did that myself. The disc features an animated main menu spliced with snippets of the musical score.
I wasnít terribly impressed with this movie although it did have certain redeeming qualities. At a glance, it seems difficult to combine the serious elements of substance abuse with comedy but this film surprisingly pulls it off. I just didnít "appreciate" certain aspects of the story and their choice of characters. The DVD, unfortunately offers a terribly mundane commentary track and little in the way of extras except for the must see Santa Cruz skit. 28 Days, 4 weeks, 1 month or any other way you look at it, is a borderline rental, at best.