Changing LanesApril 12, 2002
The story of what happens one day in New York when a young lawyer and a businessman share a small automobile accident on F.D.R. Drive and their mutual road rage escalates into a feud.
Release Year: 2002
Rating: 6.5/10 (35,528 voted)
Critic's Score: 69/100
Stars: Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Kim Staunton
An attorney in a rush to make a court appointment to file legal papers involving a multi-million dollar trust accidentally collides with an alcoholic insurance salesman, who also is a rush for a court appointment involving the custody of his children. The attorney leaves the scene of the accident and strands the salesman, causing him to miss his custody hearing. During the process of the post-crash discussion, the attorney accidentally drops the papers he needs to present in court. The judge gives him until the end of the day to present the papers and thus begins a cat and mouse game between the proponents. A few questionable actions later on both parties' part, they finally start questioning their actions and their lives. In the end, both come to new understanding of what is important and appear to be set in new ethical and moral directions. Contains mild violence and profanity.
Writers: Chap Taylor, Chap Taylor
Samuel L. Jackson
(as Jennifer Dundas Lowe)
Cynthia Delano Banek
Myra Lucretia Taylor
Judge Frances Abarbanel
An ambitious lawyer, a desperate father, they had no reason to meet, until today,
Release Date: 12 April 2002
Filming Locations: Bergen County Court House – 10 Main Street, Hackensack, New Jersey, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $17,128,062
(14 April 2002)
(4 August 2002)
Did You Know?
The interior of the house that Doyle Gipson is seen in during the main title sequence was not a set. It's in fact the interior of a real house in Queens, New York which Roger Michell had found while scouting locations.
Banek's shirt is wet right before his meeting with his wife and completely dry when they are sitting at the table.
Think I'll make this the boys' room.
Changing Lanes: A turn for Hollywood? (8 stars)
When `Changing Lanes' first opens, the viewer is presented with a montage
jagged credits, trendy jerking photography cruising NYC streets, and
electronic beats that are so cool they could be used for cryogenic
It quickly seems apparent that this film is simply a star-vehicle for Ben
Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson; it seems apparent that this is a cold and
impersonal genre-exercise for a successful comedy director, Roger Michell
(`Notting Hill'), to branch out; it seems to be all these things until the
end of this sequence when the camera glances out the window of a school bus
out onto the New York City skyline, and there we see it: the World Trade
Center. Unlike Sam Raimi's upcoming `Spider-Man', delayed after September
11th so that the WTC could be digitally removed, this is a film unafraid to
date itself, and unafraid to look at human truth.
Affleck plays the role of the oddly named Gavin Banek (did they take the
name Ben Affleck', throw it in a blender, and add some new letters for
measure?), a high-power lawyer on the verge of becoming one of the partners
at his law firm, alongside his father-in-law. Jackson is Doyle Gibson, a
reforming alcoholic father of two clawing his way out of his hole and
to save his marriage. On a critical day in both their lives, Doyle going to
court to try winning joint-custody, and Gavin on his way to seal his
career-making case, the two get into a minor accident on the FDR turnpike,
causing Doyle to miss his hearing and Gavin to accidentally give Doyle a
signed document that is critical to his case and it all unravels from
The two tumble in a daylong haze of malice and self-destruction,
each other's lives. Whenever either decides to throw in the towel and do
right' thing, it is too late and the other has already escalated it to the
next level. His life quickly falling down around him, Gavin begins to
examine it for the first time, taking a deep look into his wife, his law
firm, his boss/father-in-law, and himself ultimately questioning his
motivation for trying to retrieve the document in the first
This is where the film really shines: many movies ask the question what
makes a man?' but `Changing Lanes' does it with honestly and authenticity.
The screenplay, by Chap Taylor, asks if it is success, or if its providing
for one's wife and kids, or if its true goodness, avoiding superficiality
and delving into the motivations for each. In one telling monologue,
father-in-law, played with perfect tone by Sydney Pollack, says, `At the
of the day, I do more good than harm. What other standard have I got?'
Unfortunately, the movie does not really ask the question of what makes a
woman, even though both wives show real strength. The movie does not even
seem to suggest that Gavin and Doyle's struggles could even be applied to
women (obviously they could, had the movie explored that).
Jackson, always an excellent actor, is great as Gibson even if he has
performed better before. Surprisingly, in this film Affleck's acting
actually seems to surpass Jackson's in this amazing performance that is
probably the best we have seen from Affleck so far.
All of the characters in the film, including minor-roles and extras, all
exhibit a very human feel, and seeing real-feeling people on the screen has
always been something rare and not to be taken for granted. The viewer
to care about everyone in the picture: Gavin, Doyle, their wives, the guy
the bank, even the stranger at the bar.
New York City itself is alive in this movie: it breathes, coughs, and gasps
with Salvatore Totino's shaky, unsaturated, claustrophobic photography.
Totino really looks at people and the city in the face, and does not try to
make them prettier or uglier than they are. David Arnold's original
electronic score is a refreshing change from the very poor attempts at
orchestral music that most movies are now filled with. Arnold's score very
effectively sets the mood and reinforces the tempo of the
`Changing Lanes' is a success for Roger Michell that shows us that a movie
can have major stars, be entertaining, glossy, substantial, and pensive
`Changing Lanes' is rated R for a fender-bender, destruction of office
equipment, unseen infidelity, a shot of the World Trade Center, and honest
depiction of the human condition.