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Classic Selection for the Weekend of
August 4 - 6, 2000

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     Clean and Sober 

Michael Keaton achieved his greatest fame through his comedic talents. He catapulted into our lives as Mr. Mom, and never left. While his career has had ups and down (Up with Batman, down with Multiplicity, way down with Jack Frost), Keaton has always sought out diversity in his roles to show that he was an actor, not just a comedian. One of his earliest challenges was Clean and Sober.

Keaton stars as Daryl, a real estate salesman living on the edge. He works hard, and parties harder. However, his use of cocaine and alcohol is starting to get out of hand. One night, he meets up with a woman in a bar and takes her home. The next morning, Daryl wakes up, but she doesn't. The woman hasn't died, but Daryl knows that she has little chance of living. That's not the end of his troubles.

To pay for some cocaine, Daryl has raided the company escrow account. He thought some stock investments would help him pay it back, but the market has hit rock bottom. Owing $40,000 to his company and facing a possible murder charge, Daryl decides he needs to hide for a while. He checks into an anonymous drug rehabilitation center for 28 days to let the heat blow over, hoping the market will turn around and the woman's health will improve.

Will Daryl come to grips with his addictions while in rehab? How can he get out this jam?

The National Society of Film Critics awarded Keaton their Best Actor award because he is amazing in this film. He creates an unsympathetic character who is able to grow, but not like what you would expect from an afterschool special. Keaton's character still has flaws because rehabilitation can't make him forget his past in 28 days. Plus, he faces some big problems that he caused by his own actions.

Morgan Freeman shows up as Keaton's counselor, and does a fine job. However, his role is very predictable and quite one-dimensional. He is supposed to be the tough guy who won't take any of Keaton's bull, and Freeman is good at that.

I was taken with M. Emmett Walsh's performance as Richard, a former addict trying to help Daryl. He is not overbearing, but realistic. Early in the film, we learn about Richard's problems and see that he is a very strong man who has true, unselfish intentions. Instead of becoming preachy, he takes a tough love approach.

Kathy Baker is fine as Charlie, the woman the Daryl wants to help and, possibly, fall in love with. Unfortunately, this part of the film is pure Hollywood. Some idiot studio guy probably forced this love interest angle on the director to make the film more appealing, and softer, but it takes away from the tough look director Glenn Gordon Caron is trying to give the audience. First of all, addicts are told to avoid romantic entanglements in the early stages of rehab. Second, her story is forced upon us half way through the film when we are focused on Daryl. Baker does an admirable job with a misguided plot and character.

If you want to see some great dramatic acting, check out Clean and Sober.

Grade: A-

Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron

Written by Tod Carroll


Michael Keaton …………………... Daryl

Kathy Baker ……………………… Charlie

Morgan Freeman ……………….… Craig

M Emmett Walsh ……………….… Richard

Brian Ben Ben ………………….… Martin

Tate Donovan ………………….…. Donald

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