A competently handled but thoroughly conventional tearjerker that has "telepic" written all over it.

Vet TV thesp-director LeVar Burton’s feature “Reach for Me” is a competently handled but thoroughly conventional tearjerker that has “telepic” written all over it. Starring Seymour Cassel as yet another irascible, potty-mouthed senior who learns the meaning of compassion while at death’s door, the pic places a solid cast of smallscreen names in service of well-intentioned but formulaically second-rate material. Next stop, cable.

Cancer has only enhanced the bile that’s always dominated Alvin’s (Cassel) personality. Ailing but still energetically irksome, he’s the bane of the staff (notably nurse Alfre Woodard) and patients at Valley Meadow Hospice, grabbing behinds and blathering profanely to a roommate who seems understandably relieved when his own number’s up. Alvin’s new roomie is a disconcertingly young stage-four cancer case (Johnny Whitworth), whose generosity and adoring girlfriend (Lacey Chabert) eventually, inevitably, thaw the codger’s heart. Other body parts are warmed by Adrienne Barbeau’s flinty, flirtatious fellow patient. Every note is tried-and-true in Michael Bruce Adams’ script, particularly its reliance on the current movie wisdom that seniors are most endearingly relatable when potty-mouthed and randy. Production package has tube-style polish.

Reach for Me

Production

An AMedia Vision production. Produced by Charlene Blaine-Schulenburg, Susan R. Rodgers, Mark Wolfe. Executive producers, Gary Passon, Seymour Cassel. Directed by LeVar Burton. Screenplay, Michael Bruce Adams.

Crew

Camera (color, 4K-to-DigiBeta), Kris Krosskove; editor, Avril Beukes; music, Julio Reyes Copello; production designer, Jen Fiedler. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival (U.S. Cinema), Oct. 15, 2009. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Seymour Cassel, Alfre Woodard, Johnny Whitworth, Lacey Chabert, Adrienne Barbeau, Charlene Blaine, Larry Hankin, LeVar Burton.
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