28 Days

USA 2000

Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

New York, the present. Gwen is good-time gal who traipses around the city with her equally lackadaisical boyfriend Jasper, getting very drunk and very loud. She sets the bedclothes on fire through carelessness, among other things. When Gwen ruins her sister Lily's wedding (while drunk she hijacks and crashes the bridal limo), she's packed off to a rehab centre where chanting and venting one's feelings are the order of the day.

Gwen rails at the centre's discipline (she's not even allowed to have painkillers), not to mention its 'touchy-feely' atmosphere. Before long Cornell, a no-nonsense counsellor, touches a nerve and Gwen is finally able to see her life needs to change. She begins opening up to her rehab-mates and engages in a mild flirtation with one of them, a sexy professional ball-player named Eddie. Gwen endures a measure of heartache when her roommate Andrea commits suicide. When her term is up, she returns home and faces the changes she needs to make (including splitting up with Jasper) in order to embark on her new drug- and alcohol-free life.


28 Days might very well be viewed as one of those movies that take an honest snapshot of what it's like to go through substance-abuse rehab - but that doesn't make it any good. Director Betty Thomas and screenwriter Susannah Grant (who's capable of sharp writing, if the recent Erin Brockovich is any indication) try hard to show us the transformation Gwen must undergo in order to change her life, but none of it clicks. Sandra Bullock injects the early part of the movie with a minor jolt of energy. She's most interesting when she's playing out the blithe selfishness people with substance-abuse problems inflict on others. It's funny when she shows up at her sister's wedding, dishevelled and with black bra straps showing beneath her pastel bridesmaid's dress. But it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of her utter carelessness.

Once Bullock enters rehab, though, there's nothing to do but brace yourself for her initial resistance to it, which is of course soon to be followed by her total embrace of its philosophy. Along the way she is reconciled with her sister (the sadly underused Elizabeth Perkins) and recognises her addictions most likely stem from their mother's own substance-abuse problems. It's a wonderful, healing shock of recognition for her - bravo! But we saw it coming a mile away, and what do we get for our trouble?

Almost all of Gwen's revelations are like giant signposts rather than insights into some very deep-rooted problems. Anyone who's been through rehab in real life would be the first to tell you that there are no easy answers. But in 28 Days the most blatant realisations are treated as grand solutions. When Gwen screws up her leg and is forced to hobble around in a walking cast, her anger and frustration mount. Wise old counsellor Cornell knows just what to do: he hangs a signboard around her neck that says, "Ask me if I need help, and if I say no, give it to me anyway."

If pretty much all a movie character needs is a signboard to get to the root of what are, in real life, very subtle and difficult problems, it's safe to assume that character isn't getting much more than a good slathering of Hollywood gloss. When Gwen hangs a different signboard around the neck of her sensitive and ill-fated roommate (Drew Barrymore lookalike Azura Skye), it reads like nothing so much as a hamfisted Author's Message: "Don't ever be a slogan, because you are poetry."

That may very well be true: the poor girl is simply stuck in a movie that's a giant slogan - no poetry allowed here, because that would just be too messy. And people might be likely to miss the point, which is "Substance-abuse recovery is very very hard." 28 Days is not bad enough to ruin your life, nor is it good enough to change it even remotely. In any event, you won't need more than an hour to recover from it.


Betty Thomas
Jenno Topping
Susannah Grant
Director of Photography
Declan Quinn
Peter Teschner
Production Designer
Marcia Hinds-Johnson
Richard Gibbs
©Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc
Production Companies
Columbia Pictures presents a Tall Trees production
Celia Costas
Production Supervisor
Monica Levinson
Production Co-ordinators
Carrie DuRose
New York:
John De Simone
Unit Production Managers
Celia Costas
New York:
Patricia Doherty Hess
Location Managers
Declan Baldwin
John B. Griffin Jr
Assistant Directors
Richard Graves
Susan J. Hellmann
Chad Graves
New York:
Michael Pitt
Script Supervisor
Benita Brazier
Francine Maisler
Kathleen Driscoll-Mohler
Jon Scott Strotheide
Shay Bentley-Griffin
ADR Group Voice:
Loop Troop
Camera Operators
Patrick Capone
Mark O'Kane
New York:
Harry Garvin
Steadicam Operators
Mark O'Kane
New York:
Harry Garvin
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Connie Brink
Art Directors
Bo Johnson
Rick Butler
New York:
Robert Guerra
Set Designers
Geoffrey S. Grimsman
C. Scott Baker
Bill King
Set Decorator
Debra Schutt
Costume Designer
Ellen Lutter
Wardrobe Supervisors
Lisa Frucht
Pauline White-Kassulke
New York:
Deirdre Williams
Joel Voorhies
Key Artists:
Sharon Ilson
Pamela Westmore
Sandra Orsolyak-Allen
Kymbra Callaghan
Stephen Kelley
New York:
Karen Reuter Fabbo
Key Stylist:
Colleen Callaghan
Janine Rath
Dale E. Brownell
Judith H. Bickerton
Robert Steinken
New York:
Kerrie Smith
Titles Design
Imaginary Forces
Pacific Title
Patrick Russ
Music Supervisor
Randall Poster
Music Editor
Nick South
Score Recordist/Mixer
Jeff Vaughn
"Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash; "Bon Voyage (Escape mix)" by Fantastic Plastic Machine; "Come Softly to Me", "Rip It Up" by NRBQ; "Heaven and Mud", "The Drinking Song", "White Winos", "Dreaming" by Loudon Wainwright III; "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night; "Carolina in the Morning" by Mitch Miller; "Everything Is Beautiful" by Ray Stevens; "Happy Days Are Here Again" by Mitch Miller; "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" by Otis Redding; "Dèjà Vu" by David Crosby; "Show Me the Way to Go Home" by Tom Jones; "Happy Trails"
Sound Mixer
Tod A. Maitland
Re-recording Mixers
Gary Bourgeois
Greg Orloff
Supervising Sound Editor
Michael J. Benavente
Dialogue Editors
Alison Fisher
Jeena M. Phelps
Sound Effects Editors
George Simpson
John Joseph Thomas
ADR Editor
Hugo Weng
Gary Hecker
Michael Broomberg
Richard Duarte
Mark Pappas
Christopher Flick
Stunt Co-ordinator
Daniel W. Barringer
Sandra Bullock
Gwen Cummings
Viggo Mortensen
Eddie Boone
Dominic West
Diane Ladd
Bobbie Jean
Elizabeth Perkins
Steve Buscemi
Alan Tudyk
Michael O'Malley
Azura Skye
Reni Santoni
Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Margo Martindale
Susan Krebs
Loudon Wainwright III
guitar guy
Katie Scharf
young Gwen
Meredith Deane
young Lily
Elizabeth Ruscio
Kathy Payne
Aunt Helen
Lisa Sutton
Doctor Stavros
Joanne Pankow
saleslady/night tech
Corinne Reilly
Andrew Dolan
Maeve McGuire
groom's mother
Jim Moody
Christina Chang
Adam Pervis
younger boy at gas station
Dan Byrd
older boy at gas station
Ric Reitz
father at gas station
Suellen Yates
Andrea's mother
Frank Hoyt Taylor
equine therapist
Brittani Warrick
Elijah Kelley
Mike Dooly
Wendee Pratt
Bill Anagnos
NY cabdriver
Soap Opera
Jack Armstrong
Judith Chapman
Suzanne Davis
Rod McCary
Doctor Griffen Hartley
Columbia Tristar Films (UK)
9,347 feet
103 minutes 52 seconds
Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS
Colour by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011