28 Days

Send in the clowns: Gwen (Bullock, left) directs the other inmates in a spoof of their favourite soap opera...
dir Betty Thomas scr Susannah Grant
with Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West, Steve Buscemi, Elizabeth Perkins, Azura Skye, Alan Tudyk, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Diane Ladd, Michael O'Malley, Reni Santoni, Margo Martindale
Columbia 00/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
From Erin Brockovich screenwriter Susannah Grant, 28 Days is another bracingly funny true-to-life story about a woman finding herself. And while this film isn't nearly as clever or insightful, it's still remarkably entertaining from start to finish. And it features a very strong central performance from Bullock.

After a spectacularly drunken and disorderly display, New York party girl Gwen (Bullock) destroys her sister's (Perkins) wedding day and is sentenced to a 28-day programme in a wooded rehab centre. But everyone there is just a bit too cheerful and cuddly for her, and she conspires with her British boyfriend (West) to flout the rules, even after serious threats from her no-nonsense counselor (Buscemi). But the alternative is jail time ... so maybe Gwen should take this whole thing a bit more seriously.

Yes, it's somewhat preachy and sentimental, but the lively dialog and spiky performances save it from being another unbearable American heartwarmer. There are lots of serious themes gurgling around in here, some more heavy-handed than others, but Bullock makes it worth seeing. Yes, she's slightly too likeable, but she's also charming, energetic and convincingly desperate to sort out her life and relationships. It's also nice that the threat of a romance with a fellow inmate (Mortensen) never takes over the storyline. Some of the other patients add terrific comic undertones, in a rather stereotypical sort of way. And director Thomas keeps the tone nicely irreverent, even if she's not polished or assured enough to pave over the script's thin spots.

[15--themes, language] 5.May.00
US release 14.Apr.00; UK release 16.Jun.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall