Reign Over Me

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Reign Over Me Movie Poster Image
Grief-stricken Adam Sandler deals with 9/11.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 128 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Various traumas produce various effects: a widower behaves "badly," using inappropriate language and aggression with his friend; his in-laws try to have him committed; a woman becomes obsessed with sex; and a suffocated husband becomes angry. All reconcile, neatly, by film's end.


References to 9/11 (none visual) make Charlie and other characters upset; a character's father dies, causing grief; video game shooting, exploding, crashing; Charlie pushes and hits Alan; Charlie pulls a gun on a cabbie, hoping that nearby cops will shoot him ("suicide by cop") -- instead, they tackle him.


Woman offers her dentist oral sex in his office, then stalks him, returning to see him and threatening him with a harassment lawsuit (discussion of this problem includes body part names and slangy words and phrases like "penis," "she wants to do down on me," "she wants to blow you"); when Charlie visits a therapist, he talks about her "tits."


Frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t", plus "ass," "asshole," "damn," "sucks," "bitch," "p---y," "chrissake," and "hell." A lengthy barrage of insults includes repeated uses of "faggot." Other phrases include "suck my ass, retard!" and "he's a giant dork!" A movie-within-the-movie screening of Blazing Saddles includes a bleeped-out series of jokes using the "N" word (the audience laughs at the jokes).


Starbucks, Shadow of the Colossus video game, Colonel Sanders (stand up display in an apartment), Captain America, many mentions of bands (Pretenders, The Who, Bruce Springsteen) and a Mel Brooks marathon.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer drinking in bar, wine drinking in restaurant.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this isn't an Adam Sandler comedy. Rather, it's a drama about a man's ongoing response to losing his family on 9/11. For much of the film, Sandler's character is ragged-looking, distraught, aggressive, and foul-mouthed -- though he can also be charming in a childish way. His visits to a therapist are mostly sad, as is his eventual lengthy description of his loss. There's lots of swearing and derogatory slang, as well as discussion of suicide (one nearly successful attempt is shown), insanity, institutionalization, and oral sex. Some yelling, pushing, and hitting takes place during a fight, and minor drinking in bar leads to an argument.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2, 7, and 9-year-old Written byjenchristo17 September 28, 2009
Parent of a 15-year-old Written bypoopshi September 18, 2009
Great movie, even though there is the swearing you don't tend to notice it as much when your paying attention to the grieving messed up guy. Excellent show... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJacob Hetfield April 17, 2019

What's the story?

When Alan (Don Cheadle) discovers Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) shuffling on a New York sidewalk, it's obvious that his onetime college roommate needs help. But even though Charlie is suffering dislocation and depression after losing his wife and daughters in a plane on 9/11, he's not the only character in REIGN OVER ME who could use a sense of purpose and connection.

Is it any good?

A disjointed meditation on loss, Mike Binder's film lines up a whole series of victims. As hard as Reign Over Me works to complicate Charlie's grief and rage (he's alternately twitchy and aggressive, frightening and pathetic), it offers a troubling, reductive contrast in one of Alan's patients, Donna (Saffron Burrows). Her "female" response to her own traumatic loss isn't edifying or sympathetic. Instead, Donna is driven into hypersexual stalker-spasms (she repeatedly offers Alan oral sex in his office). Her aggressiveness scares Alan and intrigues Charlie, who is mostly lost in an adolescent fixation on her breasts -- at least until she becomes his means to redemption.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lingering effects of 9/11 on our culture. How have the media treated the event? How do tragic stories and images help us work through emotional wounds? How does Donna's trauma affect her differently than Charlie's affects him? Why do you think Charlie is so fond of popular culture that reminds him of his youth (comics, '80s bands, video games, etc.)? How does the media help define an era?

Movie details

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