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  Film Reviews: Changing Lanes: Clean And Sober  

Saturday, April 13
Changing Lanes: Clean And Sober
Changing Lanes
Last Week, I brought you the tale of a drunken non-thinking film. This week, I bring a clean-and-sober viewing of “Changing Lanes,” a film seen to set right my karmic debt for the week. See, I’ve got this hook-up at the office – a co-worker with a close relative working for Paramount Studios. This kind co-worker slips me sneak preview passes to all sorts of movies. Well, husband and I were supposed to see the sneak preview of “Changing Lanes” last Monday. We didn’t make it, but I had made a point of telling the co-worker that we’d definitely make that movie. I figure by paying for the movie outright, I’ve not really blown off the free movie pass.

Twisted moral logic? Nah, that’s what “Changing Lanes” is all about. Heavy-handed imagry all the way around. For the incredibly slow, the story takes place over a few days – one of which is Good Friday. For the really, really slow, there are scenes in a church. For the comatose and retarded, we even have crosses and rosaries appearing in the oddest places! Okay, it’s a story about revenge and redemption! You’ve got it out of me! Starring Ben Affleck (who will be in something like 5 movies this year) and Samuel Jackson (who should be in at least 8 more movies this year) as two men who are in a fender-bender just as each of them are rushing to go to court. The fender bender incident is the beginning of their troubles, as neither wants to listen or accept the other’s suggestions as to how to handle the accident. This failure to pay attention to each other’s situation quickly erupts into an on-going revenge/torture cycle the two men seem unable and unwilling to break. This, of course, is merely representative of what the two men are really going through in their daily lives. Affleck, knee-deep in a corrupt law-firm with a mistress and a wife content that she did not marry a moral man, cannot believe that he’s really all that different from that wide-eyed college kid that once talked a millionaire into donating $10,000 to help build parks for underprivileged children. Jackson is a recovering alcoholic with an estranged wife who is ready to uproot their children and move 3,000 miles away who cannot seem to take responsibility for any of his own actions. In all, these characters are deeply flawed – neither is wholly wrong nor wholly right in what they do, and this does bring a refreshing element of honesty to the story.

If nothing else, the movie also delivers up a lot of co-stars that will make you say, “hey weren’t they in…” The father from “Six Feet Under” makes an appearance as a living man! Sidney Pollack is the lawyer so powerful that he’s the only one that can wear “business casual” at the office. Toni Collette is that actress that you’re sure you’ve seen in other movies, but just can’t quite remember (most recently it was the HBO movie “Dinner With Friends”). And then there’s Amanda Peet who I would swear was making a serious attempt at acting – she remains clothed the entire time!

The Usuals:

Recommendation: Worth the Matinee price at a first-run theater.

Annoying Theater Goer: Tie. First, we had the high-schoolers behind us working out their plausible reason to buy tickets to the R-Rated “Van Wilder” without proof of being 17. I remember trying the “I got pulled over and the cops took my license” story when I was in high school – it didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now. When will the kids just learn to buy tickets to the PG-13 movie starting at the same time and walk into the movie they really want to see? Second, we had the annoying and constant-chattering chicks sitting directly behind us. I believe they were mildly retarded, as they had no concept of “quiet talk.” After the glare failed, a “shhhh” was introduced. Head Annoying Chick informed us that “no one on screen was talking,” as proof that they were entitled to chat about their day during the movie. I am certainly glad we weren’t in the theater with them to see “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”

Main Reason To See This Film: If nothing else, William Hurt’s very real and raw argument with Sam Jackson about why not drinking for a day was the least of a recovering alcoholic’s responsibilities to themselves.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: We will have at least 17 more chances to see Ben Affleck and Sam Jackson in films over the next year.

MPAA Rating: R

Nudity: No.

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