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Reach Me Blu-ray Review

Reach Me (2014) movie poster Reach Me

Theatrical Release: November 21, 2014 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: John Herzfeld

Cast: Danny Aiello (Father Paul), Tom Berenger (Teddy Raymond), Lauren Cohan (Kate Raymond), Kevin Connolly (Roger King), Terry Crews (Wilson Mizner), Omari Hardwick (Domenic), Elizabeth Henstridge (Eve), Thomas Jane (Wolfie), Ryan Kwanten (Jack Kinsey), Nelly (E-Ruption), David O'Hara (Thumper), Kyra Sedgwick (Colette), Tom Sizemore (Frank), Sylvester Stallone (Gerald Cavallo), Kelsey Grammer (Angelo), Cary Elwes (Kersey), Christoph Ohrt (Tommy), Rebekah Chaney (Denise-Denise), Jillian Barberie (Anne), Danny Trejo (Vic), Darius McCrary (Captain Hawking), Frank Stallone (Motel Desk Clerk), Sally Kellerman (Flo), John Herzfeld (The Director)

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There's no point burying the lede: Reach Me is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Watching it, I was certain that I was experiencing someone's feature film debut. Only when it was done did I discover that in fact this was the work of a shockingly seasoned filmmaker. John Herzfeld not only produced this film, but also single handedly wrote and directed it. Not the headstrong film school grad you expect, Herzfeld has been making movies since the late 1970s. Not good movies, mind you, but movies that have managed to attract big name actors and receive wide release.
Herzfeld has had one such film every decade: 1983's Two of a Kind reuniting Grease leads John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John to five Razzie nominations; 1996's 2 Days in the Valley, perhaps most notable for giving Charlize Theron her first film credit (and for being Herzfeld's only brush with respectability); and 2001's 15 Minutes, a thriller that familiarized Robert De Niro with the critical disdain that has followed much of his 21st century output.

Reach Me would appear to be Herzfeld's one big movie of the 2010s. But despite a cast that includes seventeen names distinguished enough to warrant cover mention, this film received a theatrical release limited enough to not even open a box office record. One viewing of the film or really even just any random scene of it would be enough to stifle any question over its ignominious fate. Less easily answered is the mystery of how Herzfeld assembled such an accomplished cast. Some of the actors, like Cary Elwes, Tom Sizemore, and Danny Trejo, have shown an overwillingness to work that borders on desperation. Others, like Kelsey Grammer, Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, and Kevin Connolly, may have enjoyed some choice parts on television but are still at the stage where they'll take what they can get on film. Then there's Sylvester Stallone, whose presence in a minor supporting role here may be the first acknowledgment that his days as a movie star have passed.

In "Reach Me", reclusive author Teddy Raymond (Tom Berenger) helps blog underling Roger King (Kevin Connolly) quit smoking.

Whether assembled by financers with deep pockets (which included nearly $200 thousand of crowdfunding from Indiegogo saps) or desperation discounts, the cast doesn't mesh well at all. That might be overlookable but Herzfeld has crafted this ensemble piece in the vein of Paul Haggis' Crash, Robert Altman's Short Cuts, and Richard Curtis' Love Actually, where relatively minor storylines overlap and interconnect. The one thing linking all the narratives together (besides their Los Angeles setting) is the titular self-help book that touches the lives of all who encounter it.

Roger King (Connolly), a grungy, cynical Internet gossip who can't quit smoking, is asked to track down the empowering book's mysteriously anonymous author Teddy Raymond by Roger's boss, political blogger/artist Gerald Cavallo (Stallone, tackling what are probably the two least believable occupations of his long career). Roger (who for some reason suffers from an unmentioned/undiagnosed case of aniridia) cleans up and stakes out a pay phone in Redondo Beach the mysterious author (Tom Berenger) has been known to use.

Other plots involve a cowboy-fashioned undercover cop (Jane) with a taste for killing (he's slain "43 bad men") and the alcoholic priest (Danny Aiello) who is sick of hearing his confessions; a woman (Sedgwick) released from prison on parole after serving 3 years for arson; and a couple of lifelong best friends (Omari Hardwick and David O'Hara) who have an epiphany to get out of the hitman business.

Sylvester Stallone as a political blogger who paints? Not buying it!

Reach Me fails on every single level. It is full of really terrible dialogue and poorly-drawn characters.
Its depiction of criminality may be cinema's least convincing since the early days of Hays Code-governed film. Its PG-13 rating is downright perplexing: it's too tame for the adult content (which includes prison beatings and sexual assault) but clearly desired by the production (the assault occurs under the covers of a movie set), perhaps for delusional commercial purposes. A Platinum-selling rapper named E-Ruption (Nelly) who credits Reach Me for turning his life around, vows not to curse in his songs anymore.

The worldview conveyed in Herzfeld's tinny banter and heavy-handed direction is unlike anything else I've ever seen. It most immediately reminds one of Christian movies made by non-professionals resting on their convictions more than storytelling gifts. But Herzfeld stops just short of invoking God and Jesus (aside from the confession scenes). He establishes humanity as the foundation for bettering one's self and overcoming demons. Some non-religious viewers might appreciate that sentiment if it was delivered with even a tiny bit of grace or realism.

Perhaps the only good thing about Reach Me is that it has the excess confidence and blatant disregard needed to occasionally reach that rare place: cinema so bad it's hilarious. There are at least three moments where the film gets there, most apparent of them the single scene appearance of Kelsey Grammer, whose golf course slapdown is ludicrously recalled in a black and white flashback mere minutes after it has finished.

Based on the casting of Stallone, a cameo made by Eddie Winslow (Darius McCrary), and the presence of two Heat actors, you really want to believe this film is the misguided effort of an '80s child and '90s teenager out to make a name for himself with his approximation of a Quentin Tarantino-type emergence. If it were, you could chalk it up to a young man's mix of passion with inexperience, forgive, and be willing to give the director another chance. That it is instead the effort of a sixtysomething man who wrote and directed 1980s TV movies, created the swiftly-cancelled 2004 CBS crime drama series "Dr. Vegas", and casts his thirtysomething wife Rebekah Chaney here as a character whose looks and chest are her defining qualities makes it impossible to defend in any way.

Kyra Sedgwick as an ex-con arsonist? Not buying it!

This isn't the misbegotten work of someone who will find his footing, but the folly of a man who has no business wielding this kind of creative power. Herzfeld's last writing and directing credit before this was Inferno: The Making of 'The Expendables' for EpixHD. He must be better suited for promotional making-of documentaries because he couldn't possibly be as bad at that as he is at original screenwriting and narrative directing.

A mere month after becoming available for download and VOD, Reach Me hit Blu-ray and DVD on 2014's final Tuesday carrying a rare 0% rating (from both top critics and all critics) on Rotten Tomatoes. Someone better send Armond White a copy.

Reach Me Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 Dolby TrueHD (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


Reach Me's original 2.40:1 aspect ratio is upheld on Blu-ray. The transfer showcases the film's competent digital cinematography without any issue. Sound is offered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and plain stereo 2.0. It too is of an acceptable quality, without ever wowing you.

Reach Me's theatrical trailer touts the movie's C-list cast, just as its cover art does. Kelsey Grammer makes a brief appearance as a supposedly intimidating mob boss, a scene prominently featured on the cover and the menu.


The disc's only extra is Reach Me's name-dropping theatrical trailer (2:22, HD), which joins the disc-opening trailers (all also in HD) for Fading Gigolo, Are You Here, Automata, and The Humbling in a Previews section.

The scratched-up menu plays an end credits song (sample lyrics "I almost died today... at least I know why I'm alive") over a montage of faded clips. The Blu-ray doesn't support bookmarking, but does resume unfinished playback.

The insert-less blue keepcase is topped by an embossed, glossy slipcover reproducing the cover artwork below, which it adapts for the disc label.

An undercover cop who counts his kills (Thomas Jane) and the alcoholic priest (Danny Aiello) who no longer wants to hear his confessions are two of many Angelinos whose lives intersect in John Herzfeld's "Reach Me."


Reach Me is among the worst movies of 2014 and of all time. The countless failings all seem to be the fault of the one person whose name doesn't make it to the front cover: writer-director-producer John Herzfeld, who suggests his recent dearth of creative positions is not self-imposed. Watching this movie is not completely without value: doing so establishes the artistic floor for contemporary filmmaking and will also test your ability to recognize the lesser actors the movie nonetheless markets ("is that really Cary Elwes?!"). Of course if you only wish to be entertained by films in traditional ways, then 93 minutes would be better spent on almost anything other than this often insufferable dreck.

Buy Reach Me at Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 3, 2015.

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