Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: Punch Drunk Love (2002)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring:: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman

"I don't know if there is anything wrong because I don't know how other people are."
-Barry Egan

Okay, I'm taking a quarter point off for the weird sequences of flashing lights and psychedelic colors that just make no sense.

But otherwise, yes, yes and yes, this is a great movie. Punch Drunk Love features Adam Sandler as a quick tempered businessman with a serious anger problem that he can't control as well as he'd like. He's socially awkward and often lonely, so he ends up in a scandal involving a sex hotline in which they use the personal information they acquired from him to extort money. But on the other side of things, at least he finds a loving, accepting girlfriend courtesy of his seven pushy, uptight sisters. Yes, he has seven sisters. Seven sisters who do nothing but chastise him and remind him of how stupid he is; is it a wonder this guy has anger problems or what?

This is really great. I love how the music seems to channel Sandler's boiling emotional clock throughout the movie - it's realistic, it really is. Watching this movie, when that hellish, cluttered music popped up, I felt like I was with a kindred spirit, and I'm sure you will, too. We don't all break windows and destroy restaurant bathrooms when we're angry, but we all feel our heartbeats going faster when the pressures of our worlds become too much to bear, and that's what this music and the scenes with them brought out. It was cathartic, in a way.

I love the contrasts between the different storylines; every one of them offers something new. It's a story about a bullied and browbeaten man who finds happiness through a pretty woman and an abandoned harmonium left on the sidewalk. I love the offbeat, black-spotted humor that pops up in the dialogue for moments here and there - one especially funny one between Sandler and the "Mattress Man," played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman, in which they have a rather timid, misguided, obscenity-filled argument that will draw laughs from anyone. Hoffman is just great. Shame he didn't get more screen time.

And I love the scenes in Hawaii, especially - must be the romantic in me; time to break out the Die Hard movies again to reassure my manhood. But screw it. This is a raw, beautiful little trip with a ton of things that I could go on for pages about, but I'll keep it short. Jarring, occasionally even nightmareish, but also stunningly beautiful and universally humane, in its own weird way. Romantic, triumphant, heroic and brittle, Punch Drunk Love delivers one hell of a great film experience that I will definitely go back to again.