“Reach Me” is an indie comedy whose primary virtue is its cast, well-known actors who took small roles on a lark — a chance to play against “type.”
So here’s Sylvester Stallone as a rich, ruthless gossip website operator, a sometime painter who is all about “flow,” and being endlessly quotable.
“Promises are written on water. They sink!”
Then there’s Kyra “The Closer” Sedgwick, a pyromaniac fresh out of prison, ready to be redeemed.
Tom Berenger is the homeless savant and reluctant, reclusive guru whose book,”Reach Me,” is turning Southern California’s lost souls into self-helped successes.
“It’s never too late to grow up and be special,” he preaches on the page.”This is between you…and you!”
Funny tough guy Terry Crews is his agent, his “inspiration,” according to him.
And then there are the players cast on-the-nose.
Nelly plays an ex-con rapper who sings the praises of “Reach Me” to one and all — mostly nearby El Segundo and Redondo Beach, where the film is set and was shot.
Thomas Jane is an undercover cop who wears a new-fangled six-shooter in an Old West holster. He shoots people and then seeks forgiveness from an increasingly repelled priest (Danny Aiello).
“I’m startin’ to feel like an ACCOMPLICE!”
And Kevin Connolly (“Entourage”) is the would-be novelist, working as a hack investigative gossip for Stallone’s “Daily Contact” website. He’s the guy charged with finding this Teddy Raymond (Berenger), going through the guru’s cured stutterer intermediary (Lauren Cohan).
The trouble with all-star comedies like this is how much the process of writing attractive bit parts for big names works against the central story and characters. Writer-director John Herzfeld keeps introducing new players — Tom Sizemore, Kesley Grammer, Danny Trejo — when we’d much rather hang with Jane’s cracked avenging angel cop or Stallone’s paint-slinging muckraker or Cary Elwes’ creepy Brit actor prone to groping his female co-stars. Instead, we sort of follow Connolly’s Roger King as he tracks down his quarry, whom we can guess is going to try and redeem the jerk.
Connolly and Sedgwick are still cable show leading players. The big screen overwhelms them. Berenger comes off convincingly earnest, damaged and shy, and the Aiello/Jane trips to the confessional deliver consistent laughs. I love it when Jane sits opposite Aiello, leans toward the priest and says “You wanna go first?”
Stallone has never had more lines in a smaller role, and it’s entertaining to hear him strain through speeches he’s been smart enough to avoid in his decades of action pictures.
“You’re either toothless, or ruthless…You’re a finger-painter. Be a masterpiece!”
Listening to him, you wonder why trend-chewing So-Cal hasn’t gone cult-crazy for him and not the homeless guy wandering beaches and living in parks.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language, drug use, and smoking
Cast: Kevin Connolly, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Berenger, Nelly, Sylvester Stallone, Lauren Cohan, Terry Crews, Thomas Jane
Credits: Written and directed by John Herzfeld. A Millennium Entertainment release.
Running time: 1:35
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