HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

‘Sleepwalking’ Has Exactly That Potential Effect on Moviegoers

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 4.5 (8 votes)

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.5/5CHICAGO – When done improperly, there’s nothing more embarrassing than actors playing against their type or social class. There is a subtlety to channeling the lower middle or the working class beyond dressing down or developing a bad hairstyle. “Sleepwalking” is the type of film that gets it wrong and just gets worse as it tries harder.

Charlize Theron in Sleepwalking
Charlize Theron in “Sleepwalking”.
Photo credit: IMDb

Charlize Theron is cast as Oscar bait in her role as Joleen: a down-on-her-luck mother who has just been busted for growing marijuana.

She is also in trouble with social services and then threaten to take away her 11-year-old daughter, Tara, who’s played by the trying-too-hard AnnaSophia Robb. Desperate, she abandons the girl with her brother, James, who’s played by Nick Stahl.

James is another hard-luck case, and because of his suddenly having to care for Tara, he’s forced into unemployment. While social services then takes the girl into foster custody, James in a totally bogus move busts her out.

The rest of the film is a road picture leading into the sad past of James and Joleen as personified by their father: a truly hammy and misused Dennis Hopper.

AnnaSophia Robb in Sleepwalking
AnnaSophia Robb in “Sleepwalking”.
Photo credit: IMDb

The emotions and actions of the characters were wrong, wrong, wrong and in line with the events taking place. The young actress playing Tara was miscast from an impression standpoint.

Even though she looks like Theron’s daughter, she was much too upscale looking for the role.

Unfortunately, too, the script did her no favors as she had to balance anger, petulance, strange “being-on-the-road joy” and a “Lolita”-type pool scene all at the same wretched time.

Stahl felt lost with his character as well and gravitated toward a timid, downward spiral without any apparent foundation (except his choice to underplay the role).

Nick Stahl in Sleepwalking
Nick Stahl in “Sleepwalking”.
Photo credit: IMDb

Even as some family secrets are revealed, it somehow doesn’t fit his established personality. Even his ultimate solution seems shallow and desperate from the filmmakers.

The most extreme wrongness, though, is saved for Hopper’s character. It’s as if director William Maher turned on the camera and simply said “be Dennis Hopper”.

His character is a hopeless caricature and an assimilation of the same old – the same old, in fact, from “Blue Velvet” Hopper. Is this dreck any way to end a career?

The script is full of tired and unrealistic clichés, too. It actually used one adage that did time in a cereal commercial. The direction is also hackneyed with all-ponderous close-ups to guess the character’s “deep,” inner thoughts. It was unquestionably “sleepwalking,” which is a perfect description of any audience member who chooses to walk out on this one.

“Sleepwalking” opened on March 14, 2008.

Click here for our full “Sleepwalking” image gallery!

HollywoodChicago.com staff writer Patrick McDonald

Staff Writer

© 2008 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Punk Punk

    CHICAGO – For theater that is audaciously in-the-now and generates a sparkle of life, there are few better storefront (garage, gothic gathering place) groups than “Nothing Without a Company.” Their latest, eclectic kick-in-the-head production is the intensely diverting and weirdly fun “Punk Punk.”

  • Assassination Theater

    CHICAGO – There are two dates in modern American History that ring in the heads of certain generations. Of course, there is September 11th, 2001, but the granddaddy of that date is November 22nd, 1963. That is when an American president, John F. Kennedy, was shot point blank in the head and killed on the street of an American city. The official proclamation from the government is that a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fired those shots. In a new Chicago play, “Assassination Theater,” subtitled “Chicago’s Role in the Crime of the Century,” the jury is still decidedly out.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions