Clean and Sober

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Clean and Sober is a 1988 film written by Tod Caroll and directed by Glenn Gordon Caron. The film stars Michael Keaton, who gives the performance of a lifetime[1] as Daryl Poynter, a cocaine addict, a drinker, an incessant smoker, and a womanizer. Keaton vividly and chillingly portrays the isolation and denial of addiction.

The 12 Steps

The viewer gets an intimate (but secular) look at Alcoholics Anonymous in action, as Daryl is sent to a meeting in a Catholic church to get a sponsor. He tries to pick up the meeting leader on the pretext of asking her to be his sponsor. Seeing right through him, she suavely declines but sends a man named Richard to meet him, and Daryl gets his phone number.

Later, when he's out on a 24-hour pass trying to score drugs, he accidentally calls Richard. He tells him to meet him in 90 minutes and to do a "searching and fearless moral inventory".


The movie opens with Daryl awakened by a phone call about a huge amount of money missing at work. He puts off the caller with lies, but then he discovers that his date is unconscious.

For the first hour of the movie, everyone but Daryl can see that he has a problem. He's implicated in the death of the woman he slept with, and he has stolen $92,000 from his real estate firm.

He just can't face it, even when his addiction counselor (Morgan Freeman) asks him point blank, "Do you have a problem?" His new AA sponsor asks him, "Are you an addict?" but Daryl can't say yes or no.

Addiction and Treatment

This is a movie that hits all the right notes about addiction and treatment. Addictions can overlap, and the First Step is the hardest: admitting that you are powerless over your addiction. A glaring flaw of this typical Hollywood treatment is the omission of any mention, however oblique, to a Higher Power.


  1. "Keaton has never been better--or more desperate and wired ... " The Best 10 Movies of 1988 - Roger Ebert