Keeping in mind that not every movie has to cure cancer, I mostly enjoyed 28 Days, in which Sandra Bullock plays a party girl who can't get it through her skull that the party's over. Sloppy drunks, she and her boyfriend (played by British actor Dominic West) have arrived at the stage where they're accidentally starting fires in bed, then trying to put them out with beer. Soon after the movie opens, Bullock's Gwen mumbles and stumbles her way through her sister's wedding, then peels off her bridesmaid's dress, hijacks a limo and, after mowing down a lawn jockey, parks the car underneath somebody's front porch. And before we can scream "Intervention!" she's been shipped off to a rural rehab center called Serenity Glen, which is kind of like a summer camp, only without the heavy petting (supposedly). It's either that or jail. That director Betty Thomas (Dr. Dolittle) and scriptwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) have decided to have a few laughs on the speedy road to recovery is just fine with me; I'm still licking the psychic wounds inflicted by movies like Days of Wine and Roses, Clean and Sober and When a Man Loves a Woman. And if Gwen's fellow addicts seem like your usual can of mixed nuts, each one has just enough saltiness to keep us grabbing for more. As for Alan Tudyk's Gerhardt, whose German accent appears to have been picked up in a gay bar called Hogan's Heroes, he's a nutty fruitcake unto himself. Thomas and Grant give 28 Days a M*A*S*H-like atmosphere, right down to the deadpan jokes over the loudspeaker, as when someone announces that night's lecture, "Are You a Black-Out Drunk, or Don't You Remember?"
Just to make sure we don't think detox is all fun and games, the movie inserts a third-act tragedy; and it burdens Gwen with these momma-drank-too flashbacks that spell out everything in big block letters. Elizabeth Perkins plays Gwen's responsible sister, and it's as if she's dropped in from the movie that 28 Days is otherwise trying so hard not to be--what a party-pooper. Gwen uses humor to deflect attention from more serious issues, and you could argue that the movie does too, but is she the only person who's found 12-step programs both helpful and faintly ridiculous? Isn't accepting how faintly ridiculous they are part of the recovery process? Bullock is strangely unconvincing as someone who's inebriated, but she's entirely credible as a woman who's dragged kicking and screaming--and, yes, laughing--to sobriety.