Move over, Tony Robbins. Thomas Jane, Lauren Cohan and Academy Award nominees Tom Berenger, Danny Aiello and Sylvester Stallone star in Reach Me.
Cast of Characters:
Father Paul – Danny Aiello
Teddy Raymond – Tom Berenger
Kate – Lauren Cohan
Roger – Kevin Connolly
Wilson – Terry Crews
Kersey – Carey Elwes
Angelo – Kelsey Grammer
Thumper – Omari Hardwick
Eve – Elizabeth Henstridge
Wolfie – Thomas Jane
Jack Kinsey – Ryan Kwanten
E-Ruption – Nelly
Domenic – David O’Hara
Colette – Kyra Sedgwick
Frank – Tom Sizemore
Gerald – Sylvester Stallone
Vic – Danny Trejo
Director – John Herzfeld
Screenplay – John Herzfeld
Producer – Rebekah Chaney, Cassian Elwes, Buddy Patrick & John Herzfeld
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language, drug use, and smoking
A motivational book titled Reach Me, written by a mysterious man named Teddy Raymond (Tom Berenger), goes viral and quickly gains popularity, inspiring a group of interconnected people. Among them are a journalist (Kevin Connolly) and his editor (Sylvester Stallone), a former inmate (Kyra Sedgwick), a hip-hop mogul (Nelly), an actor (Cary Elwes) and an undercover cop (Thomas Jane), all of whom begin to make changes in their lives by confronting their fears.
You could add at least four hours of extra exposition to Interstellar and it still wouldn’t even come close to being half as confounding as Reach Me.
You won’t get any weirder of a film this year than one that features Cary Elwes as a perverted actor, Stallone as a savage news editor, Thomas Jane as an undercover cop, who looks like he might be moonlighting as a Poison tribute band frontman, seeking solace from Danny Aiello’s alcoholic priest, Tom Sizemore as a mobster who orders wiener dogs shot (cue Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” now) and Kelsey Grammer as his intimidating boss.
Starring Danny Aiello, Tom Berenger, Tom Sizemore, Cary Elwes and Thomas Jane among others, this is a who’s who of “Where the Hell Have They Been?” stars (with the exception of Stallone, who’s movies are still getting wide theatrical releases). If this film was released 20-25 years ago, it’d be considered an all-star cast extravaganza. That’s not a knock on the individuals involved here. They’ve all done extraordinary work before (Berenger in Platoon, Aiello in Do the Right Thing, Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride, etc.), but Reach Me is the film equivalent of watching a former NBA champion/all-star fade his journeyman career out with his sixth team.
Essentially what Shaquille O’Neal was for the Boston Celtics.
Written and directed by John Herzfeld, Reach Me is similar in style to Herzfeld’s 2 Days in the Valley, a much better film released nearly 20 years ago. There are a variety of characters with different neuroses and complicated lives that all come together at the end. On paper they all hold potential, but Herzfeld mismanages them, as well as the tone, poorly by cramming everyone into a 90-minute run time. Character developments are rushed, and there’s this overall feeling of disconnect between everyone, yet everything’s magically tied together by the unconvincingly feel good finale.
Who knew so many screwed up people could be miraculously changed for the better, at the snap of a finger, by a book that’s nothing but trite phrases out of the Joel Osteen playbook?
Even worse is Berenger’s Teddy Raymond character. Herzfeld builds up so much mystery about this “miracle man”, who can allegedly cure people’s stuttering and smoking habits, you’d swear he’s the Messiah. When we’re finally introduced to him, and see that his magic technique is nothing more than just shouting at people (or dunking people’s heads in the ocean to cure speech impediments), we’re left wondering just how dumb the rest of the world must be for someone like him to attract such a devoted following.
Oddly enough, there’s something slightly intriguing, in a watching a car wreck take place kind of way, about this film. Herzfeld’s throwing the kitchen sink’s worth of characters at us, with hardly any sense given to how Point A connects to B, you’re kinda dying to know how the hell he’s gonna wrap up this mess. At times, it’s unintentionally funny, maybe even cringe-inducing (Berenger getting Lauren Cohan, aka Maggie from The Walking Dead, to overcome her stutter), but it’s all so scatterbrained you can’t really look away. Most amusing is Sly Stallone’s scene-chewing news editor, who dresses like he should be smacking his bitches and hoes around. Stallone’s dialogue consists of riffing out as many fortune cookie lines as he can (“You’re either toothless or ruthless!”, “You’re a finger-painter… Be a masterpiece!!!!”), and is so unbelievably ruthless (instead of toothless) he makes the gang from Network look like PBS’s Bob Ross.
Burdened by a hokey script and disjointed direction, Reach Me tries so hard to be an ensemble piece like Crash, Disconnect or this year’s Men, Women & Children, but ends up floundering in its own incoherence. The cast on display is certainly a talented bunch, but the material they have contains next to nothing in terms of substance, and this film overall is just an unfortunate reminder of how long ago it’s been for some since their far more superior work.
I give Reach Me a D+ (★½).