The Right Thing, or Not
Changing Lanes
Review by Ross Anthony

An interesting film about two men hitting each other and ground zero on the same self-defining day. Actually, it feels more like one guy is doing the defining and the other is being defined to. Ben Affleck plays the new slimy partner at Dewey, Cheatem and How. Samuel L. the recovering alcoholic dotting his "I's" and crossing his "T's." They collide on the highway, creating irreparable damage to both their respective important missions.

Though the fault squarely appears to be Ben's, the two indulge in a game of tit for tat that escalates rather unbelievably out of control - a sort of "Falling Down" times two.

In fact, like Samuel's character, the film keeps trying to do the right thing, but messes up every time circumstances get intense. Fortunately, in-between rather implausible progressions, excellent drama takes place. Both are good, but Changing LanesAffleck is at top form, guttural, believable, compelling. Speaking of acting, a small part by the guy that fixes anything is absolutely smashing. Like a young Michael Keaton, he fired up our audience.

Ben's secretary (etc.) is quite believable, unfortunately the writers have given her a split personality ... repulsed by the scummy lawyers she works for, but quick to pull out a Rolodex hosting underworld computer hackers. Kim Staunton as Samuel's ex also gives a pretty powerful speech. Lastly, you'll love the cynical speech given by Ben's wife, "I married a Wall Street lawyer ... I could have married an honest guy instead." (I paraphrase.)

Good theme, good sound effects, slightly above average film that stumbles on the opportunity to be something very fine.

Director Michell sums, "It's not a good guy/bad guy story. It's about standing on the brink of doing the right thing, or not."

  • Changing Lanes. Copyright © 2002. Rated R.
  • Starring Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollak, William Hurt, Amanda Peet.
  • Directed by Roger Michell.
  • Screenplay by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin.
  • Story by Chap.
  • Produced by Scott Rudin at Paramount.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:16:40 PDT