After two college roommates part ways and lead completely seperate lives, they come back together by chance to share a unique friendship. One (Adam Sandler, sporting a Bob Dylan look) has lost his family and fallen into a massive rut of grief with his life in shambles while the other (Don Cheadle, looking very Don Cheadley) is nearly overwhelmed with his personal and professional successes. Their stories intertwine to reveal several lessons in humility and feature supporting roles from the likes of Liv Tyler, Saffon Burrows, Paula Newsome, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Sutherland and Melinda Dillon (who seems to be going through her own smaller version of a Diane Keaton style career revival).
With the exception of a few gorgeous montages through the streets of New York City, the first couple scenes feel like a rough, unfinished edit. The pacing is off and the storyline jumpstarts unusually fast. After we're given a chance to weave our way through to the characters (and in turn find them rather relatable), however, things fall together. Overall it is a refreshingly quiet film that doesn't feel the need to be in-your-face about everything (although it does occasionally suffer from a plodding Elfman-esque score) and certainly knows its way around relatively complex storytelling, sprinkling nice touches of subtlety here and there to either drive home points or sneak in laughs.
Technically this is a 9/11 film. It was included in entertainment news stories along with United 93 and World Trade Center (my review for which is about 8 months overdue) for its premise. It is no secret to the public the event that claimed Sandler's character's family was the 9/11 attack. That considered, it is not once mentioned during the developmental stages of the film and, one throw-away reference aside, only really comes out during an emotional turning point. This leads me to feel that an opportunity to make the film more powerful was missed when we were widely informed of the 9/11 aspect. I can only imagine that, it being a mere six and a half years after the fact, the studio felt it was financially safer to reveal it so not to offend any unsuspecting patrons. The official revelation in the film is easily the most powerful moment, and helps in expounding upon Sandler's character.
This is the perfect March release. It is much better than the garbage we're fed in January and February (the so-called "dump months") but it's not quite ready to join the big league of Oscar contenders during the winter season. It's a film that you can feel good about while also feeling like you've taken something from it.