Reign Over Me parents guide

Reign Over Me Parent Guide

Overall C

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks claim the lives of Charlie Fineman's (Adam Sandler) wife and children, the heart-broken man locks himself into a hermit-like existence. When Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle), his former collage roommate, discovers Charlie's condition, he takes it upon himself to help his grieving friend come to terms with his loss.

Release date March 22, 2007

Violence B-
Sexual Content C
Profanity D
Substance Use C+

Why is Reign Over Me rated R? The MPAA rated Reign Over Me R for language and some sexual references.

Parent Movie Review

Soft-spoken Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) spends his days at his dental practice and his evenings holding on to a marriage that has lapsed into boredom. His wife Janeane (Jada Pinkett Smith) is excited about enrolling in photography workshops and finishing jigsaw puzzles, but Alan is yearning for something more fulfilling. That’s about the time he steps back into Charlie Fineman’s (Adam Sandler) life.

It is amazing that Alan even recognizes his former dental school roommate when he passes him on the street. The man’s shaggy, unkempt hair and permanently attached headphones represent a complete change of image from his college days. After a brief conversation, it also becomes apparent Charlie’s personality has shifted into darkness and withdrawal. All these changes are the result of his inability to reconcile the loss of his wife and three daughters in a plane crash on September 11, 2001.

Renewing their relationship triggers an insatiable curiosity for Alan. Even though Charlie sometimes treats him like a best buddy and at other times like his worst enemy (expressed in fits of rage as well as physical and verbal abuse), the determined dentist keeps coming back to “Charlie World” with the hope of encouraging his mentally ill friend to open up and release his inner anguish.

However “hanging” with his old pal and playing video games or watching movies night after night, is adding stress to Alan’s marriage. His problems at home are further aggravated after a troubled female patient (Saffron Burrows) blatantly offers him sexual favors. Fortunately a professional counselor, Angela Oakhurst (Liv Tyler), who rents office space in the same professional building, begins providing much needed help and assistance. But the more Charlie is encouraged to bring himself to face his loss, the more his sorrow and anger intensify, bringing serious questions about his sanity into play.

Warm and fuzzy or hard and edgy? This movie falls on both sides of the spectrum, making it a dicey choice for parents considering it for older teens. While the promotional trailers for the film do their best to present a soft hearted story about helping a friend in need of a hand up, the sunburst is rained over by harsh discussions about sexual topics (with associated anatomical and rude terms) along with repeated sexual expletives and other profanities.

And that is a shame because Reign Over Me offers splendid performances and an intricate script portraying a range of human emotion. With a little less unnecessary content, the movie could have excelled as a mature drama about caring for others and overcoming grief.

Starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle. Theatrical release March 22, 2007. Updated

Reign Over Me
Rating & Content Info

Why is Reign Over Me rated R? Reign Over Me is rated R by the MPAA for language and some sexual references.

This is a mature drama (rated Restricted in the United States) about a man who is warring with severe posttraumatic stress after his wife and children are killed in a plane crash on 9/11. The script includes frank discussions about sexual topics (no overt sexual activity is seen), including anatomical and crude references to sex, as well as multiple uses of the sexual expletive and other profanities along with a derrogatory term referencing homosexuals which is used repeatedly. Violence involves a character prone to fits of rage (expressed through name-calling, pushing and shoving, and destruction of property) and contemplation of suicide with a gun. Frequent social drinking is depicted and a character turns to alcohol to drown his grief.

Page last updated

Reign Over Me Parents' Guide

How does Charlie view Alan’s efforts to help him overcome his sorrow? How does this movie illustrate the different ways people deal with grief? Is there a “best” way to work through this process? What indicators should be considered when deciding if and when professional help is needed?

In the film, Alan’s brisk refusal of sexual favors results in his patient threatening him with a lawsuit—where she accuses the dentist of being sexually inappropriate with her. How do you feel about the way he handles this situation? What could (or should) he have done to better protect himself from further false accusations?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a serious condition that may require professional counseling. For information on the symptoms of this condition, check this page:

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Reign Over Me movie is October 8, 2007. Here are some details…

DVD Release Date: 9 October 2007

Reign Over Me releases to DVD with audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and French), and with subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Related home video titles:

The movie World Trade Center also deals with the grief of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Another film that focuses on the impact of friendship is Hearts in Atlantis.