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Punch Drunk Love /

Rated: R

Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Luis Guzman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Lynn Rajskub 

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson 

Produced by: Joanne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi 

Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson 

Distributor: Columbia Pictures


Movie Image
Movie Image

    For once, Adam Sandler has a made a good film. Weíve seen him evolve over the years, and his comedic efforts have been quite funny at times, but he had never captured that magical spark; until now. Itís amazing that a studio would actually let him act in a serious film, and itís even more amazing that they would sign him to it. To my surprise, his character was actually well-acted, and he is never hard to picture in this new type of role because of the stylish sense of charisma he was able to use; we even get some of his great unintentional humor along the way. Many would refer to Punch Drunk Love as a dark comedy, but I believe that it is a one-hundred percent pure drama flick. The groundbreaking performances from Sandler and Watson, sensational direction by P.T. Anderson, thoroughly written screenplay, and intriguing concept make it much more than just worthwhile.

     In the film, Sandler plays Barry Eagan, the owner of a business who sells junky toiletries and miscellaneous home improvement goods, which arenít of high-quality either. He is a sad, lonely, and depressed man who has no love life whatsoever. When the pain gets to be too much, he decides to buy a girl on a phone sex hotline. The company asks him for his name, address, credit card number and expiration date, and social security number in order to verify that the credit card is real. He is very frightened by giving these things out to an unreliable company, but they say that confidentiality is their biggest policy. He has a blast when he talks to a girl named Georgia the first night he calls the line, and hangs up the phone sexually enlightened, but the next day something very unexpected happens. The company has his telephone number, and she keeps calling him back; they are stalking him and he has no way of stopping them. He must get away from them, and how is he going to do this? Fly to another state. How is going to afford this? Frequent flyer miles. How is he going to get these? Redeem pudding UPC codes to earn them! All of this is very amusing, but at the same time is taken very seriously by the audience. Along the way, he develops an affair with Emily Watsonís character, Lena Leonard, more thoroughly discussed in the next paragraph, and goes on vacation with her when he is trying to run away from the men that are stalking him from the phone-sex agency.

     Sandler was excellent, and his performance can be referred to as a ďbreakthroughĒ, but now I must take the time to talk about a more widely used actressís performance; that of Emily Watson. In Punch Drunk Love and Red Dragon, two films that have been released in the last month starring Watson, have been made better by her performances. She always chooses the most challenging and interesting of roles, and thatís what makes her characters so great to watch. In this film, she plays Lena Leonard, a character whom Barry Eagan (Sandler) falls upon. She is a friend of his sister, who really would like to go out with him. As the film moves on, they start to have rather deep feelings for each other, which ends up supporting the climax and resolution of the film. She works as almost any character, and is good in any; more simply put as impenetrable.

     The direction, by P.T. Anderson, is very interesting and unique. He very rarely zooms with the camera, and almost all of the shots are still, dark, and far from the foreground of the scene; this gives the entire picture a deep, depressing, and sad feeling, which is exactly what he went for, and was supposed to do. I especially enjoyed the variety of colors he used during the scene transitions and the way he let an enormous amount of light hit the lens of the camera. The creepy original score combined with his works perfectly, and together they made a dizzy, but masterful piece. As a whole, Punch Drunk Love works in more ways than not.

     Punch Drunk Love has its errors, but it is still enjoyable to watch; primarily because of Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. The direction is entangled in a catchy original score, and is done by the book, but has its own unique flair; almost because it is too simplistic. The screenplay isnít anything magnificently special, but it is unique and individual, and thatís what I admired about it. The entire film is basic, but it is well made; one of the better qualities that indies have. Punch Drunk Love deserves a strong three and a half bucket recommendation from me.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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