John Herzfeld’s ‘Reach Me’ Has No Clue What It’s Grabbing For

Six degrees of affectation

Tom Beregenger stars in Reach Me.
Tom Beregenger stars in Reach Me.

In the 2014 annals of throwaway flops, save a special place for 95 wasted minutes of drivel called Reach Me. In a clueless attempt to link together an overcrowded parade of disparate characters in the tiresome style of multi-layered narratives by Paul Haggis, a game but delusional cast of folks who have been seen to better advantage elsewhere is reduced to the status of amateurs.

(1/4 stars)

Written and directed by: John Herzfeld
Starring: Tom Berenger, Sylvester Stallone and Kyra Sedgwick
Running time: 95 min.

Following a premise that can most charitably be described as threadbare, hack writer-director John Herzfeld offers this sage advice: “Every life affects another life—we are all connected.” This time, by one of those self-help books, aimed at the moron market, called Reach Me, by an anonymous author who calls himself Teddy Raymond (Tom Berenger). The book empowers people to change their lives and fulfill their potential. It goes viral. Among the people who are impacted: an ex-con out on parole who wants to be a dress designer (Kyra Sedgwick); her niece from London (Lauren Cohan) who wants to be an actor but can’t get any further than pornography; an LAPD cop named Wolfie (Thomas Jane) who turns undercover vigilante to eliminate Hollywood crime even if it means shooting up the streets and endangering the lives of everyone in sight; a Hollywood stunt man with Tourette syndrome (Australian hunk Ryan Kwanten) who wants to cure his stutter; a Catholic priest (Tony Aiello) who is tired of listening to trivial confessions; a scandal-magazine reporter (Kevin Connolly) who wants to give up smoking; and his sleazy boss (Sylvester Stallone) who works out of phone booths and dreams of being a famous abstract artist. There are others, but enough of a good thing. The contrived ways they go about achieving their goals in time for a feel-good ending that only induces nausea are neither riveting, focused nor worth repeating.

The movie meanders along without a rudder. The acting is uniformly dreadful, with a desperate cast left to their own devices, digging their own graves without a shovel. The worst offender (no surprise here!) is Sylvester Stallone, who appears confused from start to finish about what kind of role he’s playing—with his jaw jutting out like one of the dice throwers in Guys and Dolls, his bottom lip covers his lower teeth and he growls and yaps like a demented pit bull, making Rocky sound like Einstein. If you can’t understand half of what he says by acting with his tongue, consider yourself lucky. Example: “You’re either toothless or ruthless—so go out and find dis guy because his destruction is your salvation, his demise is your transition from Chekhov to journalist!” Huh? Count to 10 and say that again. I dare you.

Reach Me is the kind of gruesome mess that would be laughed out of an amateur production staged by a local community theatre group to raise funds for a senior citizens’ bus trip to the Dolly Parton theme park. I’d sooner sit through the agony of Dumb and Dumber 2. John Herzfeld’s ‘Reach Me’ Has No Clue What It’s Grabbing For