Reach Me

A badly written, low budget picture, Reach Me nevertheless features a few short cameos by former Hollywood heavy-hitters, and a few stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities.

A book of inspirational platitudes by an anonymous author has “gone viral” in this picture, shaking up the lives of those who read it and spurring all sorts of rumors about the writer. One journalist hears that the mysterious author has cured a lady with a cleft lip (referred to using the slang term “harelip”) of her accompanying stutter, and decides to investigate. He discovers her in the middle of being harassed for her tiny, barely noticeable cleft lip by a crowd of young black men. She introduces him to the reclusive author, who demonstrates his methods on the journalist to cure him of smoking; they turn out to be little more than making him walk out into the ocean and shouting at him, drill-sergeant style.

The “berating as cure” method of treating a speech impediment–especially one with possible roots in physical difference–has been thoroughly discredited long ago.

Another person publicly claims to have overcome his disability after reading said book; a young man with Tourette’s Syndrome appears on a TV talk show, waving the paperback around and blurting out compliments to the attractive hostess. The writers of the screenplay probably thought Tourette’s was solely about blurting out curses, when in reality it’s primarily a movement disorder; few adults with it have involuntary vocal sounds, and even fewer of them manifest uncontrollable cursing.

And finally, the “r-word” is used inappropriately, several times to criticize a wide-eyed man who shows no sign of actual intellectual disability, and also to make a joke about the sound of Professor Stephen Hawking’s voice synthesizer. Somebody really didn’t get the memo about Stephen Hawking, did they?

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