Owen Gleiberman
April 11, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Drunks

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Richard Lewis, Parker Posey
director
Peter Cohn

We gave it a B

Richard Lewis, looking — and acting — like a Jewish Al Pacino, plays a lush who tears out of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and goes on a bender, burning up several years of sobriety. The movie cuts back and forth between his exuberantly self-destructive odyssey and the testimonials of the AA members he’s left behind. The structure isn’t elegant, yet it does mirror the yin and yang of addiction: the thrill of the high followed by guilt-stained renunciation. The actors playing addicts seem to put their souls on the line. Particularly good are Dianne Wiest as a shy, refined druggie physician, Spalding Gray as a tweedy barfly who can’t quite admit he’s an alky, and the late Howard Rollins Jr. as a blackout victim who put his son through a car’s windshield. In its prosaic, watchable way, Drunks presents AA as a redemptive paradox — an organization that offers members a benign substitute addiction, replacing booze with ritual shots of drama. B

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