There’s nothing worse than a feel-good crowd pleaser that doesn’t quite come together. A movie like Reach Me only aims to entertain by shooting directly for the heart, carried by a sweet message meant to leave audiences in an enlightened state. Negatively bashing such a blunder is like hating on a puppy or a kitten, something so sweet and innocent it can’t possibly be bad, right? Wrong. Reach Me is a mess of a film that wants to be the Pulp Fiction of life-altering comedies, but its colorful nature only provides momentary distractions from its lifeless, empty soul. Terrible performances, a haphazardly cobbled story, soap opera scripting – the only people Reach Me might save are future filmmakers, teaching them how NOT to execute a complex story about multiple character arcs.
Reach Me is a story about a handful of people looking to turn their lives around, all connected through a self-help book written by an anonymous author named Teddy Raymond. While only a select few people know of his existence, his words have touched many, steering the masses from a path without a happy ending. From an ex-convict turned millionaire rapper to a woman who overcame her stutter, everyone in America is becoming obsessed with the mysterious saint known as “Teddy Raymond,” which is why a gossip journalist named Roger (Kevin Connolly) makes it his mission to track down Teddy and expose his identity. Of course, there’s also a kill-happy cop (Thomas Jane), two hitmen searching for more fulfilling jobs (Omar Hardwick and David O’Hara), and a power-hungry slanderer (Sylvester Stallone) who all make Roger’s journey a little more eventful.
It’s not that Reach Me is simply a bland watch, but there’s an uninspired bond tying all of the quirky side-stories together. Whether we’re watching Thomas Jane’s goofy modern-day cowboy kill criminals or Sylvester Stallone’s bullish tirades, Herzfeld’s film bounces around like a bad adaptation of Chicken Soup For The Soul – minus the whole “soulful” aspect. Every scene feels like its players are trying to out-cheese previous efforts that struggle to muster any ounce of significance, gliding through tensionless setups while hurdling towards an inevitable climax where everyone comes out peachy keen. As an inspirational story, Reach Me is far too zany to remain relevant, yet where entertainment is concerned, each character’s actions wear your patience with each passing second. Redemption is sought through emotional struggles and willful acknowledgment, something Herzfeld replaces with glitzy Hollywood antics that are devoid of any comprehensible connectivity.
Herzfeld’s ambitious script also suffers from an overstuffed reality that mixes in far too many characters into an overwhelming gumbo that’s missing a blended flavor profile. With so many combating talents, Reach Me is forced to rush character developments in a way that never lets you grasp the gravity of each individual situation. Herzfeld’s mixed-bag approach results in what seems like a bunch of one-note sketches that bounce around without consistency, horrendously exemplified by Stallone’s cutthroat muckraker, Gerald. His 0-to-60 aggression feels so disconnected when sandwiched between bad rom-com interludes and goofy violence, and it makes him stick out like a raging sore thumb. The same goes for Thomas Jane’s Wild West cop Wolfe, who kills criminals at random in the line of duty through the most unconvincing manners. Reach Me has everything from random gang shootouts to a Celtic restaurant chain – it’s just a shame that all of the obscurity fits together like jamming a square peg into a round hole.
Only highlighting Reach Me‘s glaring laundry-list of shortcomings is the fact that none of the actors involved provide truly convincing performances. With such little screen time and so many big names, each actor only gets a solid three scenes to establish defining character motivations and sustainability, with the cast finding minimal success through their punchy opportunities. Rebekah Chaney and Christoph M. Ohrt struggle most with their outlandishly overplayed celebrity couple, building a chemistry akin to daytime television dramatics on public access cable shows, with Jane dialing his cowboy obscurity in for a close second. I don’t envy the cast of Reach Me, as they’re a group of actors forced to move mountains without the proper tools.
Reach Me is yet another Hollywood do-gooder without a shred of emotionality to be found. While the thought of a sympathetic policeman who can’t stop killing sounds like a bit of cheeky fun, much like every other underwhelming segment, Herzfeld’s ridiculous scripting never achieves the amount of fun envisioned. The whole cohesive project feels like a bunch of fluffy bedtime stories meant to have a mature edge, yet there’s an inherent childishness that twists each tale of discovery. Reach Me is dead, lifeless storytelling that wears its alternative influences with pride, but lacks the deft skills necessary to turn Herzfeld’s gung-ho motivational commentary into something Tony Robbins would be proud of.
Reach Me certainly reaches for the stars, but it won't touch any viewers through its jumbled collection of heartless, one-note stories.