9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
"Better luck next time.",
By A Customer
This review is from: Changing Lanes (DVD)
Nice-guys-finish-last fable concerning a Yuppie Wall Street lawyer (Ben Affleck) and a reformed alcoholic (Samuel L. Jackson) whose paths violently intersect on the FDR Expressway. The despicable young lawyer is on his way to probate court to cheat some money out of a philanthropist's heir (see the heavy theme coming?); the alcoholic is on his way to divorce court to battle his ex-wife over custody of their two boys. Their collision will adversely affect the outcomes of their respective court-dates: Jackson will be late to his hearing and subsequently lose custody of his kids; Affleck, after pompously leaving Jackson a blank check for auto repair and a more-important-than-thou "Better luck next time", gets to HIS appointment on time . . . but he also left behind some paperwork that would assist him in his unethical dealings at the probate hearing. Through the rest of the movie's duration, we witness one-upsmanships of escalating nastiness: ticked at Affleck, Jackson refuses to return the probate documents; Affleck responds by screwing with Jackson's credit rating, etc. etc. . . . It all has something to do with the fragility -- and importance -- of common decency in society. However, the casting of Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson unavoidably shrinks this theme down to traditional race issues. Which is fine, mind you; but I think the writers were trying to go for something with universal applications. In any case, the movie errs by cramming too many hostilities between the warring parties within one measly 12-hour-period. There's no reason why this battle could not have lasted for a good week or so. Indeed, a leisurely time-frame might have generated more suspense, as in, "What in the world is that guy going to do to me tomorrow? And how can I get him back?" Each man obsessively planning his next move, raising the stakes just a wee bit higher, would've been mordantly funny and dramatic. Instead, we're given a flurry of activity in an unbelievably short amount of time, leading to an equally unbelievable "happy" ending. The sudden changes of fortune (and of heart) don't jibe with the sadistic carnage each man has unleashed on each other.