Plot: Ron (Greg Kinnear) is a man with a beautiful wife, two children, and a booming career as an art dealer. But his marriage has been in trouble for years and he has been cheating on his wife, but she has learned the truth. Deborah (Renee Zellwegger) is hurt beyond words, but she isn’t vengeful and offers to let Ron stay and rebuild the bond, if he is willing to do what is needed. This leads the couple to a small soup kitchen, where Ron feels out of place and uncomfortable, but does what his wife asks and helps serve the homeless in the area. This leads him to encounter an unfriendly, unpredictable man named Denver (Djimon Housou), but he is known as Suicide. Deborah is convinced that Denver is destined to be part of their lives, even as he busts up the shelter with a baseball bat and keeps Ron on edge. Slowly over time, Ron and Deborah’s efforts pay off, as Denver opens up a little about his life. But he has never trusted white people and he is wary to trust these two, despite their ceaseless efforts to get to know him. Can Denver open his heart and learn to trust again, even as Ron and Deborah try to do the same and mend their fractured relationship?
Entertainment Value: I have to be honest, I don’t watch a lot of inspirational, heart string tugging films, so I was not the target demographic for Same Kind of Different as Me. The movie is based on the book that tells the true story of a couple putting their marriage back together while also trying to make a difference in the world, as part of a soup kitchen program. This film has a strong religious vibe, which is sure to delight some and turn others away, but it is what it is. The story is a remarkable one, as Denver’s life is interesting and his connection to Ron and Deborah seems so unlikely, but it also makes perfect sense. I do think the movie tries a little too hard at times to push emotional buttons, but the nature of the story does require it at times, as it involves some powerful emotional topics. The performances are good, with Greg Kinnear and Djimon Hounsou as stands outs. The friendship between them seems natural and the chemistry is good enough to make it work. Jon Voight is hilarious as a drunken casual racist who provides some awkward comic relief, but Renne Zellwegger really camps up the melodrama and makes her usual sour face through the movie. I do think this is a well made movie that tells an interesting story, but again, I just don’t connect with emotional dramas like I do with other genres. But if you like a good cry or appreciate this kind of real life drama, it is worth a look.
No nakedness. No blood. Denver has some outbursts and carries a baseball bat, but he smashes windows and flips tables, not people. The movie has a lot of tense issues involved however, such as infidelity, homelessness, racial violence, and alcoholism, so it can be dark at times. The dialogue is of course melodramatic at times, but mostly well written. Not much in terms of subtle elements, as the movie paints in more broad strokes. But a few humorous lines creep in, mostly from Jon Voight’s character and the cringe level “Amigo Negro” comment from a country club member. Denver has a unique spin on looking at things as well, which gives off a homespun wisdom kind of vibe, sure to be eaten up by the target audience. In terms of craziness, the casual racism and Voight’s outlandish role earn a point, but otherwise, the movie keeps things on the usual inspirational melodrama track.
Overall Insanity: 1/10