'Reach Me': Film Review

Not bad enough to be a guilty pleasure, but plenty bad nonetheless

John Herzfeld's dark comedy concerns a reclusive self-help author and the myriad characters in his wake

Filmmaker John Herzfeld (15 Minutes, 2 Days in the Valley) must have delved deeply into his obviously prodigious Rolodex to cast his latest effort, about a reclusive lifestyle guru and the many eccentric characters affected by his self-help books. Featuring an impressive cast that includes Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, Kevin Connolly, Kelsey Grammer and others too numerous to mention, the crowdfunded Reach Me mainly demonstrates the apparent inability of well-known actors to choose their projects wisely.

The plot revolves around Teddy (Berenger), whose book provides the film its title and apparently holds endless fascination for spiritually directionless Californians. These include an arsonist newly released from prison (Sedgwick); a trigger-happy cop (Jane); the alcoholic priest (Danny Aiello) to whom he delivers unconvincing confessions; an Internet gossip site publisher and amateur artist (Stallone); and several underworld types (Grammer, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, David O'Hara). Also figuring in the storyline are a beautiful young actress (Lauren Cohan); Teddy's no-nonsense agent (Terry Crews); a rapper (Nelly) who is one of Teddy's most ardent devotees, and an ambitious journalist (Connolly) who wants to expose the author, only to wind up heeding his instructions to bellow at the ocean in an effort to quit his smoking habit.

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Juggling these myriad plotlines and characters proves too difficult a task for the writer-director, who renders the proceedings with a tonally inconsistent mixture of melodrama and forced black humor. There are some pleasures to be had, such as a goateed Stallone, playing way against type, delivering lengthy, diatribe-filled speeches while wearing glasses and a silly hat. But nothing in the proceedings is remotely convincing, let alone entertaining,

At this point, lampooning the pretensions of the self-help movement seems well past its sell date, although Teddy, whose philosophy seems to be comprised mostly of one-line platitudes, emerges as a troubled figure who is one of the film's few sympathetic characters. But by the film reaches its would-be heartwarming conclusion, it's safe to say that few audience members will have been reached.

Production companies: Seraphim Films Inc., Windy Hill Pictures
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, Lauren Cohan, Kevin Connolly, Kelsey Grammer
Director-screenwriter: John Herzfeld
Producers: Rebekah Chaney, Cassian Elwes, John Herzfeld, Buddy Patrick
Executive producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Danny Dimbort, Peter Graham, Stephen Hays, Robert H. Lieberman, Frankie Lindquist, Christian Mercuri, Nick Sorbara, Todd Williams
Director of photography: Vern Nobles
Production designer: John Sparano

Costume designer: Justine Seymour
Editor: Steven Cohen
Composer: Tree Adams
Casting director: Iris Hampton

Rated PG-13, 92 minutes