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Movie Review

28 Days

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for mature thematic elements involving substance abuse, language and some sensuality

Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 14, 2000 (wide release)
Drunk—28 Days
Featuring: Sandra Bullock, Diane Ladd, Viggo Mortensen, Azura Skye, Elizabeth Perkins
Director: Bo Johnson, Betty Thomas, Declan Quinn
Producer: Jenno Topping
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

Another title for “28 Days” could be “Sandra Bullock goes to rehab.” That’s about the long and the short of it.

Bullock plays the role of Gwen, your average successful working girl who has a live-in boyfriend, Jasper (Dominic West), with whom she likes to romp in bed. We learn right from the start that she is also an alcoholic as she ruins her sister’s wedding with her outrageous behavior, bad-mouthing the marriage while giving her drunk toast, and falling onto the cake in her drunk stupor. Not to mention the black bra peeking out from under her pink bridesmaid’s dress.

Rehab—28 DaysNext scene, we’re at a rehab center, which is better than going to jail for the disaster she brought about with her drunk driving. Unlike “Girl, Interrupted,” which takes a serious look at mental problems with full-dimensional characterization, “28 Days” makes a caricature of just about everything and everybody. The various people we meet at this sanitarium are a superficially depicted hodge-podge of problems. The only one with any artistic merit is the character of Gwen, because Sandra Bullock is a good enough actress to take a bad script and pull it off. She also gets reasonable artistic support from Steve Buscemi, who plays her counselor, Cornell.

Bullock’s character does go through what alcoholics experience, namely first denying and then recognizing their substance abuse and addiction. Her days at the rehab center work, she pulls herself up by her bootstraps, and gets a grip on herself. When she leaves, we presume she is better and stronger. She seems to be, as she dumps her good-for-nothing, but successful, boyfriend. Bullock is convincing in her portrayal as someone who genuinely wants to change her life and get better.

Die-hard Sandra Bullock fans (like me) will tolerate this movie. Otherwise, there is not much to recommend.

Viewer Comments
I agreed wih the positive review comments… I was pleasantly suprised with this movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect with some of the review comments I had read, such as, “a Hollywood version on addiction” …etc. I also felt like young “C” and several others, that this was a good depiction of addiction. Also I appreciated the “transformation” that you see her (Sandra Bullock’s character) go through and thought it very true to life. Yes, it is an enjoyable movie at times and very thought provoking, giving you insight into her past and how the addictions had become so much a part of her. This was a movie of awakening… I would highly recommend it for teens and adults. This was not at all a romance movie set in a rehab center… (If you want a Romance movie, go see, “Return To Me”—wonderful movie of love and commitment…) “28 Days” did a good job of putting out a positive message about change and choices in addiction while also weaving in other factors that contributed to where she found herself in life. Go see it, you will be pleasantly suprised… I was. By the way, I was married to an alcohaulic who later secretly became addicted to cocaine. I lived the hell of addiction from a close up view point and as a wife and mother for several years. Many have experienced it themselves or as an affected family member. God has been a remarkable Husband and Father to myself and my son, as well as our woderful Lord and God. If you are struggeling with or affected by addiction of any kind, a good place to start the road to recovery is by crying out to Him. His words to you: Isaiah 41:13 “I will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not for I will help you.” I have been divorced 13 years and have a wonderful 18 yr old son with a heart of gold and much insight going into the ministry. I have lived things I wouldn’t enjoy talking about… I don’t think you have to tell every aweful detail to get a powerful message across. So to the comments saying this is not real enough or raw enough I say, Thank God!!!… Get the message with the insight and depth, without the crude raw and too ugly side… My Ratings: [3/3½]
Brenda Curtiss, age 42
…I thought it was your run-of-the-mill romantic comedy except this one was set in rehab. It had every stereotypical character that was needed for comic relief and tear-jerking scenes; the emotional Gay guy, the troubled teen, the goofy guy that’s always hitting on the leading lady, the grumpy old man, the sexy love interest, etc. …in fact, the only character in this movie that I liked was Sandra Bullock’s evil, alcoholic boyfriend… If you want to see a good movie about drug abuse (even though this one is horrible morality wise) see trainspotting. My Ratings: [2/1½]
Kimberly, age 16
I thought “28 DAYS” was a very good movie. I don’t agree with the reviews it’s getting about it being “too lazy about the subject of alcoholism and rehab.” It is at times very dramatic. The death of Sandra Bullock’s roommate from a drug overdose is very true to life. I think that it’s a very good, very funny, very sad movie. It’s about finding your true self and over coming your temptations and obstacles. My Ratings: [3/3½]
C., age 14
Even though “28 Days” contains a fair amount of profanity, crude humor, and sensuality, there is still a lot to like about this film. Once you get past the objectionable content, its good message is easy to see… Much of this film was deeply moving and introspective. While you follow Gwen’s path to overcoming her addictions, you just might be confronted by the realization that there are certain things in your own life which are holding you captive and/or separating you from Jesus. Living the Christian life means that we must trust God to help us fight the temptations of our old lives so that we can live for Him. I found that this concept is very similar to the moral taught in “28 Days.” Unlike so many of today’s films, “28 Days” doesn’t glamorize substance abuse and partying. It shows the darkest sides of an addiction as well as the joy that comes from doing something right in your life. The characters were real, the story was compelling, and the story was enhanced through the use of some great special effects. It’s unfortunate that this film had to be tainted by the many examples of how perverted our society has become. My Ratings: [3½/4]
Robin Wardzala, age 17
Lets give credit where credit is due. “28 Days” must be the first Hollywood movie in a long time that takes a look at sex, alcohol and drugs; and doesn’t glorify them! I wasn’t looking forward to seeing “28 Days,” but came away impressed. Sandra Bullock puts in a fine performance; so do the supporting actors. The script and directing are well done. The main character’s vivid flashbacks to her childhood are just an example of heavy hitting material. Fact is, many people Christian or not struggle with addiction of some form. “28 Days” looks at why, and probes for a way out. Denial, tremors, desperation, even death: the consuming pattern of addictions is dealt with in a refresheningly real way. Okay, critics might knock the large amount of crafty and sometimes coarse humour in “28 Days.” Personally, I thought all of the “Notting Hill” type humour in this movie was first, very funny, and second, fitting. “28 Days” delivers a strong punch without depressing the audience. “28 Days” does not provide all of the answers. But, it does bring forth that all important first step: honesty. For both movie making quality and content, two thumbs up!
Todd Adams, age 32
This movie contains sexual innuendo, nongraphic suicide, foul language, and drug use. I would recommend this movie. It is about the damage addiction does and about finding a way out. It touches on some valid reasons why people find themselves trapped in hurtful, habitual behavior. Bullock’s acting is believable. For the Christian the pivotal line may well be by the ball player, who tells Bullock that she is not a bad person, just because she does bad things. I think therein lies the crux of the difference between faith based drug rehabilitation and secular. Genuine freedom from the bondage of past acts and the empowerment to resist comes only through redemption by THE GREATER POWER, whom we know to be Our Lord. My Ratings: [3/3½]
Mark Dawson, age 50
Movie Critics
…contrived and unconvincing. 28 Days represents the Hollywood-ized view of alcoholism and rehabilitation… Perhaps the most disturbing thing about 28 Days is the lazy way in which it approaches the subject matter…
James Berardinelli, Real Views
…it’s a superficial, no-rough-edges account of a process that’s got to be a lot tougher than the month-in-the-country picnic depicted herein.
Todd McCarthy, Variety
…While 28 Days could never be recommended due to obscenities and sexual innuendo, it has a good heart.
Bob Waliszewski, Focus on the Family, Plugged In
…Decent, but not great… profanity heavy… the plot doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. Instead, it simply follows a standard and predictable trajectory…
…some scenes and conversations are strongly sexually suggestive …profanities turn up frequently…
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