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Changing Lanes (A Movie Review)

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Changing Lanes

Changing Lanes


Starring Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack, Amanda Peet, William Hurt, Kim Staunton, Dylan Baker and Matt Malloy.

Screenplay by Michael Tolkan and Chap Taylor.

Directed by Roger Michell.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  98 minutes.   Rated R.

Changing Lanes is a good film, though it all too often does feel like a lecture on the evils of modern life.   Not that there is anything wrong with that, you just sometimes get the feeling the story is written more to make you angry at man’s inhumanity to man than to examine two people’s reaching their breaking point.

It starts with a nifty premise… two men, each on the verge of one of the most momentous meetings in their life, are involved in a fender bender.   Affleck is a heartless lawyer in the process of stealing a dead multi-millionaire’s trust from his granddaughter.  Jackson is a corporate drone and rage-aholic who is trying to keep custody of his children and stop his wife from moving them across country.   After the car accident, Affleck tries to buy Jackson off by giving him a blank check, and then abandons him on the side of the road, mistakenly handing him an important folder needed for his case.

Jackson misses the court date and loses custody.  Affleck tracks the man down (honestly, he just stumbles upon him on the street) and Jackson refuses to return the folder.  The two start a game of cat-and-mouse to avenge what happened.  The extremes that Affleck and Jackson go to in their game of one-up-manship… Affleck has Jackson’s credit rating destroyed, Jackson tries to kill Affleck by loosening tire bolts, Affleck has Jackson arrested for child abuse… mostly seem over-the-top and excessive.

Then, after a day of trying to destroy each other, the two are able to reconcile by just having a short conversation and apologizing for everything.  It sort of negates the strong performances by Affleck and Jackson, and scene-stealing turns by Sydney Pollack as Affleck’s boss and Amanda Peet as Affleck’s wife.  I will freely admit I enjoyed Changing Lanes while watching it, but I didn’t believe the story for a minute. (4/02)

Dave Strohler

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved.  Posted: April 12, 2002.

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