Sleepwalking - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sleepwalking Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 11, 2008
Wonderfully life drama about the relationship between a 12-year-old girl and her uncle.
Superb, naturalistic performances by the three lead actors, Nick Stahl, Charlize Theron and AnnaSophia Robb, make us truly care about the people they are portraying and the things that are happening to them.
In Sleepwalking the scenery and climate could not have been more dull, barren and depressing. There are boring, depressing highways that go for miles without any beautiful scenery. Every location in this film is flat, dreary and depressing. This added to the disturbing impact of the movie. The people who live in the area of the movie are colourless, dull and depressing.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2009
Cast: Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Deborra-Lee Furness, Callum Keith Rennie, Amy Matysio, Shannon Jardine, Simon Chin, Ken Mitchell, Jean Freeman, Troy Skog, George Grassick, Mike Ennis, Alexandra Fox

Director: Bill Maher

Summary: When James's (Nick Stahl) sister, Joleen (Charlize Theron), shows up with her 11-year-old daughter, Tara (AnnaSophia Robb), he doesn't think twice about welcoming them into his home. But when Joleen skips town without her daughter, James is thrust into a role he's grossly unprepared for. At risk of losing Tara to foster care, James hits the road with his niece. Along the way, the pair develop a genuine bond and discover a true sense of family.

My Thoughts: "Although I liked the film, it had many potholes. It really didn't fill in some of the blanks for me. But for what it was, it still a good film. Nick Stahl and AnnaSophia were really good in this. Dennis Hopper, was good in this as well. His character is a controlling, hateful man. Its so easy to hate him in this film. As many probably have, or will say, this movie is quite depressing. It really never lightens up. It's a bit slow in some spots and could have ran a little shorter in time. But all in all a good enough flick with a sad and disturbing story."
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2009
Tara's mother is trash, and when she's forced from her home, she bunks in with her younger brother, then deserts her brother (James) and daughter (Tara). James does his best trying to care for Tara, but it isn't easy - he lands up losing his job, and Tara is put into foster care. James and Tara land up at James' father's farm, which is where the movie becomes unrealistic.

All in all, it is worth watching the movie. Not cute, more scary actually.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2008
Cute movie, well done job by cast.
Super Reviewer
March 23, 2008
I've been wanting to see this when I first saw the previews for it earlier this year. Just finally got done with it. I really enjoyed this film. Nick Stahl was great in here and so was Annasophia Robb. A sad and touching film. It's one of the unique ones.
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2008
Not incredible, but it packs a dramatic punch. Everyone involved delivered, but the premise wasn't particularly interesting or original.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2008
Excellent film! A great story everyone will enjoy. Forced out of her home after her boyfriend is arrested, Joleen Reedy needs a place to stay with her 11-year-old daughter, Tara. She turns for help to her younger brother Jamesva simple and overly trusting man who doesn't hesitate to welcome them into his modest rental apartment. Almost as soon as she moves in, however, Joleen hits the road with another man. Utterly ill-equipped to be the sole guardian of an adolescent girl, James does his best to make his distraught niece happy. But, before long, things spin out of control: he loses his road crew job and Tara is put into foster care. Additionally, old wounds from his emotionally abusive and sometimes violent father begin to reopen as James is forced to re-examine his life. That's when James makes a fateful decision that will bring his life full circle and force him to face his demons. He takes off with Tara and the pair assumes new identities as father and daughter. What starts out as a ploy to evade authorities takes on a deeper significance as James strives to become the dad Tara never had and, for the first time, finds a true purpose in life.
Super Reviewer
March 23, 2009
[font=Century Gothic]"Sleepwalking" starts with Joleen(Charlize Theron) having to move yet again with her 11-year old daughter Tara(AnnaSolphia Robb), this time because her current squeeze got busted for growing pot. A sympathetic detective(Matthew St. Patrick) wants to help but Joleen decides instead to move in with her brother James(Nick Stahl), a construction worker. While on the surface this may seem like a move towards normalcy, it is anything but when Joleen continues her wayward course of action, eventually leaving entirely with a promise to return by Tara's birthday. [/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"Sleepwalking" is a slight character study that is enhanced by the quality of the performances(especially by Dennis Hopper who may be in the middle of a late career resurgence) and the expert cinematography. On the other hand, there is some facile psychology at work to try and explain the characters' actions and how that relates to family, especially in how one generation affects the next. Joleen is desperately trying to relive her lost young adulthood at an age when she feels Tara can take care of herself, forcing her to grow up too quickly and perilously close to being a piece of work, even at her young age. This is expressed perfectly in the movie's two best scenes set on a tabletop(it is not the actions but what's said) and a pool. Now, if only "Sleepwalking" had a halfway decent ending...[/font]
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2008
Quite an interesting take on the power of family to influence the people we become. James (Stahl) is a bit of a wimp when his sister, Joleen (Theron), dumps her 12-year old daughter Tara (Robb), on him. Totally unprepared to parent this about-to-become teenager, James winds up losing his job, his apartment, and his ability to function in the safe world he has built around himself. His sister, Joleen, on the other hand is a hellion bent on satisfying her need to be wanted even at the expense of her responsibilities. Tara is just a kid who has never known her father and is set adrift by a mother who seems to have abandoned her. We only find out the root of all these family dynamics when James winds up at his father's farm because he basically has nowhere else to go. The father, played masterfully by Dennis Hopper, is so full of rage that he cannot sustain any level of decency or display even one iota of affection for the fruit of his loins. Dark, troubling, violent, but ultimately hopeful, I found this to be a movie that, while not fun to watch, was entertaining and very thought provoking. I think that Miss Robb is a gem. She reminds me of Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Across the Universe). Her portrayal of a kid trying to keep from totally losing it when all of the adults around her seem incapable of providing her a shred of safety was remarkable. If for no other reason, watch it because this kid is truly amazing. In the special features we learn that she is the age of the character she portrays and that only increases my respect for her talent.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
Very good film. Annasophia Robb, Nick Stahl, and Charlize Theron are terrific in the film. I definitely recommend this film.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2008
Interesting movie! James and Tara, a calm uncle and a bright niece, are left together after Tara's mother Jolene decides to leave and "take some time off from everything". Trying to do the best with Tara alone, James loses his job and then his apartment when Tara is taken from him by Social Services. Seen as unfit, James tries to get a grip on the chaos that has become his life when he truly sees Tara's sadness. They decide to leave town together, and travel to the childhood home that he had left several years before. They meet up with a reserved patriarch, whom ardently welcomes them into his home. It is there that James confronts his demons. Great cast- Nick Stahl, Annasophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, and Woody Harrelson. Worth seeing!
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2009
I think this was a well picked cast, a very emotional and moving story. However the movie is slow paced, a little boring at times. I wanted to see this family actually do something right for a change, just kept making one bad decision after another. But like like I first mentioned I loved the cast, really want to see more work from Annasophia Robb and Nick Stahl. Overall the film was good, but you're not really missing much if you don't see it.
Super Reviewer
½ May 29, 2009
Apparently not a critic favorite, I actually thought the movie was well done. It is a dark and disturbing film about a highly dysfunctional family, and I thought the ending showed a glimmer of hope where most saw nothing but bad in the whole movie (I'm also the type of person to look for a single flower in a field of weeds). The cast did an outstanding job, especially Robb and Stahl, with complex characters. It moves at a very slow pace, but it kept my interest. It's definitely not a happy escape from reality, but perhaps a horrifying look into anothers' reality.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2008
drama personified!, great performances all around i picked this up strictly cause it starred charlize theron who i swear could make a movie about a fly in a window interesting she is such a great actress! Dennis hopper always plays a wicked villan type charector when he gets the chance.
November 11, 2012
Brave and dark with a stark realism, plus strong and effective performances from it's main cast and a especially young Jodie Foster-esque turn by Annasophia Robb
January 11, 2011
A light, but sometimes effective small town drama with a capable cast of accomplished actors. Though I must admit, there's nothing here that really stayed with me.
½ May 27, 2010
Sleepwalking is a movie that was suggested to me by a good friend, i was afraid i wouldnt like it....i always hate the possibility of a friend talking about a movie and building it up and then you end up not liking it, the awkward silence that follows after you tell that friend or the bitter reply they may extent

Anyways, i was surprised by this be honest i can understand the negative reviews but i feel that they may have gone in with the wrong perspective, i've always felt that film and any performance art be it visual or written can and should invoke any emotion...even the ones we dont like to feel for that i believe is a true achievement in itself.

Sleepwalking is a film that starts out grim and doesnt really pick itself up, i'm saying this as a good one can describe this movie as anything other then outright reality so i can understand why people can hate it because a lot of people want a movie to make them happy....hence why comedy and action are top of the list for some, not true with me and while Sleepwalking isnt my favorite film and can completely appreciate the message it sent as well as the fact that it'll probably haunt me for years to come.

The story is as i said before very grim, it starts out with arguing between a women named Joleen (Charlize Theron) and a police officer....after they exchange words the curtain is revealed that the women's husband was arrested for some at the time vague drug related charges and is probably going to jail for awhile and they're taking the house, we also find out she has a kid named Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) and the officer is trying to convince her to find a more stable environment for her daughter, of course she refuses and leaves with her daughter.....retreating to her brother who lives in the same town in an old beat up apartment on the back-end of some building....nothing too bright or even remotely happy about this situation so of course this movie reflects this well.

i also notices this interesting way of an uneven "things are happening so fast its somewhat messy" i felt this was bad for the movie at first but then something clicked while watching this....nothing is ever easy when something like this happens its virtually always messy and unbelievably stress-full so i actually felt the movie was portrayed to keep us in the same uneven depressing situation that our characters are in, this of course doesnt work for A LOT of movies but i felt it worked well for sleepwalkings.

we're then introduced to Tara, the daughter of Joleen and Niece of Joleen's brother James (Nick Stahl) who they are now moving in with and then the movie changes its pacing....what could possibly make this situation worse right? well unfortunately Joleen (Tara's Mom) decides to leave....tacklessly mailing a letter with money and a promise to return on Tara's Birthday, i had guessed that this promise wouldnt hold much water and needless to say i was right.....some people just dont know whats the most important thing in their life so thinking of no one other then herself she abandons her daughter and brother hoping to gain some sense of stability....

This film is hard to generalize i have to admit, sure it has some moments that i thought were oddly placed....but on the other hand they were in an odd and unpleasant situation if they're not uncomfortable then there is something wrong right? i mention this because of the scene found on the cover.....i found it really weird, almost off the movies tone and somewhat unwelcome but luckily it didnt last long.

Then this movie after about an hour and twenty minutes (1 hour 40 minutes run time) finally reveals to us its true main character which is actually James (Stahl) unfortunately James is a guy who never stood up for himself.....constantly pushed around and takes crap everywhere he goes it makes you wonder how such a great guy who took both his sister and niece in and then after his sister left he took care of his niece.....he loses his job and apartment, some of the nicest most deserving people get the worst end of life.....sad but true, this was the Grim i was talking about earlier.

eventually the two (Thats James and Tara) decide to go, because hes not legally her guardian so they cant stay in town....while on the road she asks him where they're gonna go, to his fathers farm he says...which is where the film expands even more in depth of character development.

at his Father farm its revealed to us that his father looks a lot like Dennis Hopper (see what i did there) and is stern old man set in his ways that makes you think "its not actual cruelty its just an old timer with different ways.....well that thought i found to be dead wrong, he is infact a cruel heartless old man who without batting an eye smacked his granddaughter across the was this moment i realized something else of immense depth, this is our explanation for the ditch our leads are in...this man right her, he broke their spirit, James was broken because of him.....Joleen was rebellious, after discovering this i forgave Joleen for abandoning her daughter.....the way i saw it is they were all being broken down by this tyrant no matter how far away.

I dont want to say anymore about the story at least not specifically, but i will say that It did have a scene where you wanted to something to happen....but unfortuantely the worst possible thing did, its in the spur of the moment when a lot of bad things happen...upon reflection later we say to ourselfs "worst way to handle a situation" while obviously we've never found ourselfs in the situation James ends up in but i'm sure you can all understand what i mean.

The Cast was fantastic, after everyone i mentioned i forgot to mention Woody Harrelson....hes always a good actor no one can deny, this role is a very nice and welcoming mundane day to day guy whos a little bit of a wannabe womanizer but overall great guy.

Dennis Hopper who is also a fantastic actor made sure you despised his character with the kind of relish you feel for the Fascist dictator

Charlize Theron, AnnaSophia Robb, Nick Stahl do such an amazing job of bringing this film up.....i felt Genuine happyness by the end tears and all.

I'll just close off with, i do not think this film deserved such immense negative seems to me that a lot of people who saw it didnt go in with the right mindset (and if i'm being even more assumptious) predetermined emotions they want to feel before they're enjoying a movie, but i'm sure there are people with the right mindset who went in are were displeased and probably make a good case....but This movie left a bitter-sweet after taste that i wont soon forget and that i will fully appreciate for years to come.

P.S. i actually cant say this is a recommendation or a none recommendation review, more of a analysis of a film that was almost universally (and i feel wrongly) panned, go if you decide to watch it i hope you enjoy and if not i hope you can at least appreciate its extreme grasp of reality.
April 27, 2010
When what some may interpret as a "hopeful" outlook finally comes in Bill Maher's rather dire melodrama, it does so in the derivative, borderline discourteous form of this terribly underwhelming quote: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." To make the scene, which concludes the film, a measure more incongruous, the aforementioned line is said by a 12-year-old girl to her mother, who had previously abandoned her daughter for a month-long blacktop jaunt. What's a shame about "Sleepwalking" is that, with a little doctoring of the script, and a fair alteration of some of the characters (Dennis Hopper's role as an abusive father nearly suffocated me with its stale odor), it could have made for a riveting film, if exclusively for its performances -- everyone involved is above-average, though the echo of their acts rings with a grueling pitch, the culprit of which is obnoxious, sour writing. The DVD, however, is more earnest, liable to captivate buyers and renters more than the move itself.

The two main characters are Tara (AnnaSophia Robb, of "Bridge to Terabithia"), a snarling pre-teen, and James Reedy (Nick Stahl), her docile, hapless, tardy uncle. But it's difficult to decipher who the movie's about -- Tara, James, or Tara's mother (played by Charlize Theron, who also produced the project), who, after being evicted and moving into her brother James' ramshackle apartment with her daughter, leaves both the two with whom she'd been living and the film until the scratch finale. Woody Harrelson, as a friend and former co-worker of James named Randall, does his best to lift the tale's piteous mood with some humor, but is unable because of the supposed comedic content of screenwriter Zac Stanford's script -- Randall's a fortysomething doofus who passes his time by hounding his female colleague about her "uncanny fanny" and playing beer-drinking games with equally foolish adults, which may have been funnier if it were the first, even tenth time I'd seen this type of character. But it's more likely the hundredth.

The movie itself is bogged down by many poor traits, yet it seems that each of them could have at least been modest with a more focused story (and, of course, an equipped inker to pen it) and a modicum of creativity. But, like many of its characters (particularly Hopper's and Theron's, the second being a mimicry of Maggie Gyllenhaal's Sherry in 2006's "SherryBaby"), this picture is a discombobulated mess of other movies' conceptions -- there's even a pool scene that gives off a "Lolita" vibe, but in a less artistic way. And the lethargic rate at which "Sleepwalking" drags is the result of this, the filmmakers' lack of ideas -- much of the movie plays like stationary filler rather than significant story progression -- an evident, quite saddening attribute.

Still, maybe "Sleepwalking"'s most prominent gaffe, the dismal substance in its final shape is textured like leather, terribly missing the soft layering I assume it had aimed for (why would a movie try for a rough, plastic consistency over an ultimately embracing one, even if the latter were initially itchy?). If ever it manages its course toward emotional legitimacy, it, immediately and almost purposely, steers off in a different direction before getting there, prohibiting its observers to latch onto any of the movie's troubled characters for an extended amount of time, small or large. Even the players we wish we could care for are hard to see with tolerance -- instead of coming across as the victim of parental negligence, Tara is perceived as a nasty-hearted brat (to the discredit of the screenplay, not Robb's resourceful performance); and James' culminating outburst (think "There Will be Blood") near the movie's end virtually disqualifies his prior rank as the most applicable part in "Sleepwalking".

On a positive note, "Sleepwalking" features an effective soundtrack and first-time director Maher, who had previously worked with writer Zac Stanford in '05's "The Chumscrubber" as the visual effects designer, achieves a few beautiful road shots and certainly shows promise as a pupil of imagery -- cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía ("Focus", "September Dawn") does a great job capturing the subzero temperatures of Canada, where the movie was filmed -- but, regrettably, this show chooses content as its precedence, allowing minimal time spent on attractive scenery. To call Maher's rookie endeavor an utter failure would be unmerited, though it's definitely no success; it's closer to a disappointment, a movie I'd recommend only to those more interested in acting than anything else.
January 21, 2008
It wasn't what I thought it would be. I guess I was hoping for more of a resolution with the family between the bother & sister with their father, played by Dennis Hopper. Hopper always seem to play the bad ass, mean as hell can make them character.
I found it a little hard to see Nick Stahl and Charlize Theron as borther and sister. Aunt and nephew maybe.
I thought that the story was too strain and was not giving enough to help things moving. Maybe I was hoping more with granddaughter and son would some how make the father understand what he had done to drive his own kids away.
Annasophie Robb had done an amazing job with her role.
Overall, it's not really something to sleep over, so dream of something better to rent than this.
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