Drunks is an ensemble drama based on a play, and is essentially an
AA meeting in real time, or nearly so. There is, however, a major sub-plot.
One of the regulars is asked to speak. He tells his heartbreaking story and we
find that he has two years of sobriety. After he is done, he leaves the
meeting, obviously upset, heads straight to a liquor store, and falls off the
wagon. When he is thrown out of a bar, he convinces his neighbor, Anna Levine
Thomson, to party with him, but she wants some heroin before she will play.
The film ends with him at a new AA group, and looking forward to his first
consecutive day of sobriety. His story is intercut with the testimony of everyone else who
shares at the meeting, and it is the "everyone else" portion that elevates this
above the usual "drugs suck" film.
The others who speak at the AA meeting are portrayed by an impressive list
of performers, including Amanda Plummer,
Parker Posey, Diane Wiest, Faye Dunaway, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Calista Flockhart
and many more. Their stories are very typical of what you are likely to hear
at an AA meeting. In fact, everything about this film rings true. Many of the
stories were improvised, and the acting was amazing. The DVD claims that this
is the first film that shows what a 12 step program is really like. I have to
disagree there. Clean and Sober did a very good job of the entire subject of
alcohol and drug abuse many years before this film, and covered 12 step
programs in the process. That is not to say that Drunks is not good.
Some critics got it, others didn't. There was some grumbling about casting
comedian Richard Lewis in the lead role. I didn't see his performance as bad,
although I could see where some might see humor.
The big question is, who should see this film? If you wonder what AA is
like, this will show you. If you want insight into alcoholism and drug abuse,
this will give it. If you are a recovering drunk or addict, this film will be
almost as good a reminder as going to a real meeting, but please do both. If
you want to see some excellent performances from some top stars, again, this
is the film. Lastly, if you wonder if you are a problem drinker, see this
film. By the time you have heard all of these stories, you might well have
your answer. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic can personally attest to
the accuracy of at least some of the stories.
If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to
explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by
our definition, a
C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs
and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: