Clean & Sober [VHS]

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Product Description

After making his mark in several hit comedies including Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton startled critics and audiences alike with his acclaimed performance in this 1988 drama about one man's struggle against cocaine addiction. Keaton's comedic energy is transformed here into the kind of jittery intensity that's perfect for his role, suggesting a driven personality who can maintain the appearance of self-control for only so long before he crashes and burns. After a series of setbacks, Keaton's character seeks refuge in a drug rehabilitation program and must confront the truth of his own addiction at the urging of a counselor (Morgan Freeman) who's heard every lame excuse in the book from addicts struggling to quit. Kathy Baker leads a superb supporting cast as a recovering alcoholic and battered wife whose flagging self-esteem is boosted by Keaton's attention. Under the careful direction of Glenn Gordon Caron (of TV's Moonlighting fame), Keaton and Baker handle this delicate material with consummate skill and grace, turning a potentially depressing story into a moving portrait of people who must battle their inner demons step by tentative step. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Sobering, Thought-Provoking Film
    One of the toughest things about drug and alcohol addiction is owning up to the fact of that addiction; being able to say, "I'm an addict." Because until that happens, the addiction will continue and the prospect of getting any help will lessen with each passing day. And the important thing is getting that help before it's too late, regardless of how it comes about. It's being able to recognize the opportunity and having the gumption to take advantage of it, which is what happens to a young man on the brink of disaster in "Clean and Sober," directed by Glenn Gordon Caron. Michael Keaton stars as Daryl Poynter, a high power real estate broker with a couple of problems: He's appropriated some $90,000 from an escrow account to play the stock market (which quickly took a nose-dive on him, leaving him about $52,000 short), but that's not even his biggest problem; his biggest problem is that he's a cocaine addict, as well as an alcoholic-- and he doesn't even know it. All he knows is that his life is in turmoil and he can't fathom why. And when a girl picks up at a mall ODs in his bed one morning, his life really begins to fall apart. He needs some time to sort things out and he needs to get away-- to hide for awhile-- and he comes up with a brilliant idea; he'll hide out in a rehab center where they guarantee anonymity and confidentiality.

    He checks in, and it works. Nobody knows where he is, and the rules of the house prevent him from having any contact with the outside world. But Daryl-- a born hustler-- has hustled himself into a corner this time. Because he can't stay in if he doesn't play the game, which precipitates taking a long, hard look at himself. So for the first time in his life he gets caught up in his own scam; and it just may be his salvation. But before he can come back, he's going to have to hit rock bottom first, which he does-- in a pivotal scene involving a phone call to his mother. And it's only when he's faced with total collapse that he finally begins to look inward, and to take stock of how he measures up against the others he meets at the facility; when he starts to realize that he's not the only person on the planet.

    Working from a tightly written screenplay by Tod Carroll, director Caron delivers a hard-hitting film that takes an uncompromising look at the effects of addiction, without relying or dwelling upon the physical aspects of the problem to illustrate the depths of despair to which it can lead. To be sure, Daryl looks strung out; but that aside, the story relentlessly chronicles how swiftly drugs and alcohol can wreck a life in all regards. It's a powerful statement, unflinchingly delivered in a concise and straightforward manner. Caron approaches the subject head-on, avoiding any melodramatics while keeping it grounded in reality, which enhances the impact of the drama as it plays out. And it clearly demonstrates how far-reaching the problem is, in that it touches so many others-- friends and family-- any and all who come into contact with Daryl. It gives a personal perspective on the issue that is even more pronounced, in fact, than that of Sandra Bullock's "28 Days" or the more recent "Blow," and is more emotionally involving as well, on the level of Steven Soderbergh's affecting drama, "Traffic." This is an Oscar-worthy film on any number of levels, but 1988 was the year of "Rain Man," and the Academy was clearly looking in another direction, leaving this film without even a nomination. And it's a shame.

    As Daryl, Michael Keaton gives a performance that had Oscar written all over it; that he failed to receive even a nomination for his work here is a travesty, as this is without question the best he's ever done and on a par with any of the best of that year, including Hoffman's Oscar-winner. Whenever an actor can disappear within a character so completely-- as Keaton does here-- it speaks volumes about the performance and the believability of that character; and there's no sign of Keaton when Daryl is on screen. Keaton has a very definitive persona, but as you watch Daryl, there's not so much as a fleeting glimpse of Billy Blaze in "Night Shift," Carter Hayes in "Pacific Heights," Jack in "Mr. Mom," or even "Beetlejuice" or "Batman." With Daryl, Keaton has created a unique character, so real and presented with such intensity, that even a passing thought that this is an actor playing a role is impossible. And that's a performance that deserves much more than a passing nod of acknowledgement.

    Also turning in an extremely affecting performance is Kathy Baker, as Charlie Standers, a fellow addict Daryl meets in rehab. Baker has an alluring quality that works perfectly for the blue-collar character of Charlie, whose vulnerability quickly gains the sympathy of the audience and helps to draw you into the story emotionally. There's an obvious softness beneath Charlie's rough-hewn exterior that is becoming, a down-to-earth aspect of the character that Baker conveys quite nicely. This is a very real person she puts up on the screen, and it's easy to believe that she operates a crane in a steel mill, because there's nothing in the way Charlie is presented that is false or pretentious. It's a solid performance, and one of the strengths of the film.

    The supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, who gives an understated, impressive performance as Craig, Daryl's counselor; Claudia Christian (Iris); M. Emmet Walsh (Richard), Tate Donovan (Donald), Brian Benben (Martin) and Henry Judd Baker (Xavier). A realistic examination of a problem that affects virtually everyone either directly or indirectly, "Clean and Sober" is a sobering film that, while at times is emotionally draining, is nevertheless a worthwhile and entirely satisfying experience....more info

  • Keeping it real
    If you know anyone with an addiction or you are an addict yourself, this is the movie to keep in your library. Michael protrays the challenges of coming to terms with addiction....from denial to acceptance, with the realistic kicking and screaming that comes with it. I watch it everytime I feel the need to remember how far I have come and how quickly I can go back, if I let my guard down. It's a must see....more info
  • Keaton and Freeman great....
    This movie is really entertaining. I couldn't quite grasp why I liked it so much. I just did. Morgan Freeman in one of his first big films was spectacular as usual. Michael Keaton stole the show of coarse though. Basically Oscar worthy performance. I like the dvd cover, it seems real genuine. Buy this. I did before I even watched it. Well worth it....more info
  • A Perfect Film
    There is no other way to say it. The acting is perfect, with Michael Keaton giving us a performance that calling wonderful would be an understatement. He gives of radiance. He takes us deep into the world of a coke addict, showing us every level of a man trying to run from his personal demons only to discover he has nowhere to hide. The script is brilliant, leaving no stone unturned in the quest to conquer addiction. The characters are sharply defined and deep in inner turmoil, with their every nook and cranny of their monumental personal struggles brought out for all to see. The direction is swift and sure, and the tone is gritty and real without being oppressive. It's an utterly brilliant, deeply haunting, character driven, emotional roller caoster ride that makes you weep for these poor souls from beginning to end. It's perfect. It deserved every oscar in existance (it received none, which serves as further proof that awards shows are a joke). Forget "Traffic". Ignore "Less than Zero". This is simply the greatest addiction film ever made. Enjoy....more info
  • realistic
    Having been through a rehab myself, I found this movie to be extremely realistic to the addictive behaviors and realities of alcoholics and addicts and the way rehabs and their staff function....more info
  • Very good.
    This is a true to life movie that shows denial as well as the way everyone can fall back....more info
  • perfection
    Michael Keaton performs his role as an addict to perfection. This movie is both inspirational and hysterically funny. It is of interest to all, those with or without drug or alcohol abuse concerns in their family, or NOT!...more info
  • Michael Keaton in rare dramatic role!!! Such a great film and a very underated actor!
    This film is a keeper,the underated and always wonderful Michael Keaton(a very underated actor that we don't see enough of anymore) in rare dramatic film about the effects of cocaine abuse,and trying to kick the habit. Great supporting cast that includes Morgan Freeman,M.Emmmet Walsh,and Kathy Baker. I guess the only quibble I have with the DVD is that it's Standard Full Frame and NOT anamorpic widesceeen,but it's still a nice transfer overall. It's the performances that matter with this one!!! Recommended!!! Two thumbs up! A+...more info
  • Incredible Flick
    All I can say is that this movie captures the desparation and difficulties for addicts and the grim reality of "one day at a time." Buy this movie. You will love it....more info
  • Realistic
    I very much enjoyed this movie.
    Michael Keaton very accurately portrays a drunk & a drug user. BR>Morgan Freeman was excellant as usual & Cathy Baker was GREAT!...more info
    I very much enjoyed this story of a man battling drug addiction-alcoholism.Michael Keaton has never been better and his portrayal is dead-on, even when the film is occasionally hard-going at times.In fact, the whole cast is first-rate, the direction good, and the script unflinching and realistic. Of all the films about drug addiction, this one is highly recommended. and the ending is even happy....more info
  • Educational
    Excellent account of "how it really is". One of many of Michael Keaton's best!...more info
  • displeased with Warner Bros.
    Its a shame that Warner Brothers dismissed this excellent film, probably the best they released in the '80's, with a shoddy transfer and no extras. The DVD menu does not even have a graphic from the film but instead their obnoxious WB gold logo. At least a trailer would be nice. I'm not asking for a 7 disc Criterion Collection edition with 40 hours of supplemental footage or anything. They did this with Driving Miss Daisy" also. No widescreen either. Nonetheless, the DVD does exist. Hopefully, Warner will do a better job with After Hours when they get around to transfering that....more info
  • A Great First "dramatic" role!
    If you do any type of collecting, you know that you eventually run across hidden gems in bargain places. Such was it for me w/this DVD. Look in just about any retail movie outlet under DVDs under 10.00 & you're bound to find this movie! What a buy! This was Michael (Beetleguises) first real dramatic role. Unlike a lot of comedic actors before him ( Bill Murray's Razor's Edge springs to mind), Keaton brings home a powerful performance of a chronic substance abuser in rehab for all the wrong reasons. What he comes away with, and what the audience comes away with, is a tightly woven film, full of interesting characters and fine performances, lead, of course, by Michael Keaton. Although some will argue that he's had his share of dramatic roles since, they've all been either contrived (My Life), cartoonish (Batman), or psychos (Pacific Heights & Extreme Measures). What Keaton needs is more fine roles like he enjoyed in this film to make the leap from comedic actor to dramatic actor (ala Tom Hanks). I just hope that he can at least keep his incredible comedic edge!...more info
  • McCoy's Musings
    During the course of a graduate school class, this student was required to watch this movie and discuss it. In her own opinion, she considers this movie very good even though there are scenes in it that are not accurate. For example, the scene where the counselor accuses a patient of being high and orders her to leave. In real life, if a counselor suspects a client of being intoxicated, tests will be ordered to either confirm or rule out the suspicion. These tests protects everyone's legal rights. Otherwise, this movie could be a good introduction to the issue of addictions and treatment....more info
  • OK
    I picked this film up for it's 80's nostalgia. It depicts the AA/NA meetings/groups and sponsors well. it's still hollywood, but is pretty true to form. Great performance by Morgan Freeman and Michael Keaton....more info
  • The Best
    This movie is on my top 5 all time Greatest! Absolutely Michael Keaton's Finest performance! Gripping, Sobering, Stunning! Morgan Freeman is Spectacular! A MUST SEE!...more info
  • A decent movie with some weaknesses
    This was an entertaining movie with some strong performances. However, something about it is lacking an air of realism. I've attended many AA and NA meetings myself, and the portrayal here is somewhat cliched and not completely accurate. I've also been through several treatments, and the portrayal here is also "off" somehow. Modern treatment centers don't really operate in the way things are portrayed here. If you want to know what most AA meetings are really like, find an "open" meeting in your area and attend it. However, this movie was entertaining and the performances are good. It was a bit over-long, and there was too much focus on the romance between Keaton and Baker. More realism, less sentimentality and a little more cutting-room time, and this movie could have been better. But I enjoyed it.

    Note - The DVD version is offered only in pan-and-scan, and there are literally no features on the disc....more info

  • Keaton has never supassed this movie, yet
    This still is Micheal Keaton's best film. Oddly, it was his first dramatic film. Most people today know Keaton as someone who does dramatic films, not remembering he always did comedies and standup. He did Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice, the Dream Team, Night Shift, etc. Taken in light of this, Clean and Sober is a very depressing film, and one of the better films to handle the often overly-used storyline on drug addiction. I was stunned at Keaton's acting ability in this film. You genuinely hated him, but throughout the film, you learn to accept him and give him the thumbs up as he tries to build his life back together. Not a family flick, nor a rousing "I'm glad I'm alive" film. It's a dark and realistic film. And, hey, it's got Morgan Freeman in a stellar supporting role, too. Keaton's best film to date.

    The DVD doesn't have anything else on it, but frankly, here's one instance where I just wouldn't want anything extra. It would have been nice to have Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, but I can live with it. It's not an action film, after all....more info

  • I Liked Drunks But I LOVED! CLEAN AND SOBER!

    I gave a DVD called Drunks Three stars and it earned each of them. I just finished watching Clean and Sober and I am giving it FIVE stars only because, I am unable to give it fifty. Clean and Sober was everything DRUNKS was NOT! Clean and sober had a nice tight script that made you follow really close to keep up.

    Clean and sober taught me more than a few things about drunks and druggies. The prices on Drunks and Clean and Sober should be switched. Drunks is no where near good as Clean and Sober yet Drunks cost's a bit more. I would have gladly forked over 3 times the $7 price for Clean and Sober compared to the $21.99 for Drunks that was not worth its prenium price. Both are fine movies but Clean and Sober was just so much better.

    Clean and Sober made me think. Clean and Sober was an emotional roller coaster. I started out hating the main character in the movie. He started out a mean self absorbed trite nasty worthless no-account of the first order. As the DVD progressed to the middle point he was no better. The supporting actors in the movie were awesome, lending a sense of beleivability to the movie I liked. Everybody seemed to have mastered those seedy loathesome scamming natures druggies and drunks have when they are seconds away from hitting rock bottom.

    Slowly almost impreceptablyI started liking the main character. I started thinking awe sweet he is going to hook up with his nice lady friend and then her beast of a boyfriend returns. Then she leaves her boyfriend's house supposedly to get a pack of smokes and I figured she was heading back to see the main character mushy ending lots of kissing and gurgling noises as the credits rolled. I won't tell you what happened but I was wrong again big time. The ending rather shocked me and by the time the credits rolled, I was almost holding back tears. Vile thing was by the time the movie ended I honestly liked the title character.

    I have never been a dope addict or alcoholic but I learned something from both Drunks and Clean and Sober. I learned you can't really help a dope addict because, the help they need comes from within themselves. Once an alcohohic or druggie starts cleaning up their lives and picking up the peices. I learned you can give people in recovery opportunities but only once they have shown the commitment needed to rebuild their lives. The hardest thing in the world is to stand by and watch some one you love fall into drugs or booze knowing the only one who can pull them out of that early grave is themselves. Thats why I buy movies, because I learn things better when I can see them play out in front of me.

    This movie left me with a great Joy and sorrow but, the funniest thing is I only really remember the joy. As Clean and Sober and drunks teach addicted people make their own choices and their ain't a damn thing all the love in the world can do about it. This is one of my A List Movies. One last funny thing I almost did not buy this movie. I only ended up buying it because, I needed like 4 bucks to hit the $25 minimum required to get Free super saver shipping so I tossed it in. After seeing it I can not imagine my huge DVD collection without Clean and Sober in it.

    Clean and Sober I think is a must have DVD....more info
  • Excellent, realistic, intense slice of an addicts life and how he gets clean despite himself.
    Michael Keaton is perfect in this role. No one else could have played that part. He is selfish, demanding, self-centered and hard headed and most of all full of fear. Slowly he begins to change even though is chaos all around him. Not only is this a good movie for addicts/alkies, jail inmates, etc. People who are trying to control an addict/alkie would also benefit from this, there is no way to control someone elses addiction.

    It is very entertaining. there are some hysterically funny scenes and for once aa is not made fun of.

    I couldn't find it to rent it and so i bought and watched if 3 times all ready. ...more info
  • Serious topic affecting 70 million Americans
    CLEAN AND SOBER, starring MICHAEL KEATON (MK), MORGAN FREEMAN, KATHY BAKER, is a movie that will potentially raise as many questions as the answers that is gives out, considering that it touches upon the subjects of narcotics addiction, alcoholism, and the disorder and chaos that is felt in many people's personal lives.

    Not knowing MK personally, the work suggests an almost invisible line between the character that is played by MK in the film, and MK himself, as an actor, such is the realistic feel of the flow of events.

    The story starts out with MK snorting cocaine with the daughter of a client, from whom he
    embezzles $92,000 to speculate on the stock market with high risk derivatives and options, albeit only being a realtor or real estate agent. This puts his job in jeopardy at his employer, obviously, and the substance abuse is coupled with alcoholism, temper tantrums,
    deafness in aspects of social skills with those surrounding him, the loss of control over
    his over destiny and the annhiliation of his own reputation, that is actually crucial
    for any salesperson to survive in a highly competitive field, where trust is paramount
    with the clients, before any deal can close successfully.

    The value of this work, is not the cinematography (merely TV box-sized release), as the colors seem to lack luster, or the bland and unimaginative music. Rather, the uniqueness of the film, is the attempt to educate the viewer in how a de-tox program unfolds.

    The program begins with a 48 hour cold turkey cessation of substances, often in bed. The withdrawal symptoms (vomiting, cold sweats) disappear between 2 to 5 days later, at which point the coordinator (played by Morgan Freeman) urges participants to exert an intense athletics and exercise program (pushups, etc) so as to help the mind focus on the desired end and tasks at hand.

    The next phase, is a sequence of town hall meetings, to naturally satisfy the natural impulse of participants to discuss their lives, what led up to their addiction in drugs and alcohol,
    and to hear others do the same, taking and learning while they go along.

    Next, a so-called "Family Room" is occupied, apparently signaling that a psychological
    intimacy has been achieved, and a total honesty among all heretofore, with a continuation of physical activity, exercise which turns into "probations" under which, the individuals
    are allowed to communicate with the outside world for the first time since they started (the phone, and travel from the detox center being isolated since day 1.)

    Morgan's character is well trained in reading people's faces in terms of whether they are being totally honest and upfront about how clean they are and to what degree they've adhered to the program thus far, and actually kicks out several people for not sticking with it,
    or lying about deviation from the process. Eventually, a graduation is held, that is appropriately celebrated with music and dance.

    The film shows that the completion of the detox, is not a destination, or an end in itself, but a fresh starting point, or motivator to being sorting out the anarchy, or disorder that is present in each of the participant's personal and professional lives. For some, as with MK's character, this is easier said than done, as was the case with cleaning his own addiction, as he's admittedly become dependent on a married woman for his own romantic
    impulses, herself struggling with a husband with a substance problem and a shaky marriage.

    The lesson to be drawn is difficult to discern. Are financially troubled people, with bruised ego's and low self-esteem from professional and / or personal success more susceptible and prone to substance abuse and alcoholism? Or does addiction occur more frequently among those suffering from OCS (obsessive compulsive disorder) for example, as MK's character seems to show ? Do the problems relate to a biological inability to happily grow older as the years pass? Kathy Baker's and MK seem to revert to a teenage romance with its corresponding joy despite their actual ages, with a nostalgic trip in time to the JFK years of 1962 hit songs.

    At the end of the day, there is only so much that any given individual can expect, whether before or after the detox program, from friends, family, employer, which is that nobody wants to pull the weight of another person who refuses to do so. Life isn't perfect, but one cannot give up on life under the excuse of those imperfections ( not being well connected, others are allowed to get away with financial schemes, etc.)

    A questionable decision, in the editing room, was exposing several times the behinds of several actors, messy arm pits, and long dialogs in the urinal while taking samples.

    The most remarkable is the finding of a sponsor, during the detox program, who is the addict's personal life-line to curing their problem, and clearing the way to a more probable successful outcome, by carrying out emotional discussions, flushing pills, hard liquor and substances down the toilet, etc.

    Be advised that a healthy liver weighs only 3.5 lbs, and can grow to weigh 4 times heavier when abused....more info


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