Clean and Sober (1988) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Today it’s considered common consensus amongst moviegoers that Michael Keaton is a “serious” actor. That wasn’t the case back in 1988 when he took on the role in Clean and Sober. The film’s minuscule box office takings signaled that audiences weren’t ready for Mr. Mom to take a leap of creative freedom. Consider the range of the performances in Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober. It’s an astonishing range that would take 25 years before the critical community recognized the quality of Keaton’s talent.

A grim drama about hot-shot real estate broker Darrell Poynter (Michael Keaton). Daryl is a cocaine addict and alcoholic struggling to shake his dependencies. The subject matter is exceedingly depressing, but director Glenn Gordon Caron steers clear of the overt sentimentality and preachiness. Keaton’s impressive performance is controlled and matched by the stealthy work from Morgan Freeman as a counselor at a rehab clinic that Keaton hides out in. Both actors get excellent supporting work from Kathy Baker as a young woman with similar problems.

It may be old hat nowadays, but it bares repeating; Michael Keaton is one of the most under appreciated American Actors of the last forty years. Watching Keaton and Freeman share the screen is a pleasure. And it’s always great to see the criminally under utilized Brian Benben (one of my favorite actors of all-time) on the screen.

Director: Glenn Gordon Caron
Stars: Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman

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