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3.3 out of 5 stars
Punch-Drunk Love [DVD] [2010]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2010
It's taken me a really long time (and multiple viewings) to realise that I really like this film a lot. Adam Sandler brings a lot to this role (and is perfect for it) but he also brings a lot of unwanted stuff regarding the expectations you might have going into an Adam Sandler film. The first time I saw this I had some very different expectations to what I ended up seeing here. I'll be honest I was slightly dissapointed.

I watched it again after seeing P. T. Anderson's next film `There Will Be Blood' (which has been my favorite film since I saw it in the cinema) and I realized how much I love the it. It's taken me a while to get there but now I'm totally there. And compared to TWBB it really is a really P. T. Anderson film. The protagonist is a flawed but likeable character. How you feel about him changes throughout the film. I like my protagonists flawed I've realized. And I don't like them to come through a whole heap of trouble and emerge a normal person at the other end.

I'd say the biggest similarity between the two films has to do with the concept of love and companionship. This is the central theme underlying both of these films. There is a line in PDL; "I have a love in my life and that makes me stronger than you can possibly imagine". Barry's life is made worth living by having someone to love and share himself with. It's only when he begins a relationship that he starts to take care of himself physically, by standing up to the people who would harm his new love, or his ability to be with her. This is a newly found central relationship in his life, which carries incredible significance for him. Similarly Daniel Plainview in TWBB has a central relationship upon which he builds his entire life around. It's only when his Brother comes to stay does can he get rid of his problematic son. And it's only when his brother betrays him (I don't want to spoil it) does he need to get his son back to him. He needs a family member to depend on, run his business and share his life with. This is why Plainview is so twisted at the end of the film when his son, In his eyes, betrays him. Both characters have a deep need for companionship. In my eyes this is obviously a theme, unconscious or not, from P. T. Anderson.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2003
After making his 180 minute epic Magnolia, director PT Anderson was asked by the press what his next project would be. He announced he was making a 90 minute comedy starring Adam Sandler, to hearty laughter from the assembled hacks.

And then he made Punch-Drunk Love, a 90 minute comedy, starring Adam Sandler. Well, sort of...

Sandler plays Barry Egan, a man who is seemingly terrified by the world and also suffering from some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder. The film tracks his persecution at the hands of a chatline operator and his 'chance' meeting with a girl which leads to the Love of the title. But why Punch-Drunk too? Possibly because in the first half of the film Barry is subjected to glaring lights, clanging noises, the hen-pecking of his seven sisters and a physical beating...and then he follows Emily Watson's Lena on a business trip and his whole life changes.

Punch-Drunk Love veers between hectic, intense scenes to blissful dreaminess. The cinematography is superb, but likewise swings from steadicam loveliness to handheld paranoia. All the while, the soundtrack reflects this too with jittering, jerky themes melting into sweet hawaiian folk songs.

I loved this film at the cinema and repeat viewings on dvd have backed this up; its mixture of comedy and pathos, romance, phonesex and smashed up patio doors is genuinely appealing. The cast are perfect, and Sandler is a revelation playing something approaching his typical 'manchild', but cast adrift in a world that frustrates and frightens him. Emily Watson brings a tender soulfulness to the character of Lena, and Philip Seymour-Hoffman is as great as ever playing Barry's nemesis the Mattress Man.

Punch-Drunk Love split the critics when released and falls into the 'love it or hate it' category pretty squarely. But if you can accept the uneven tone and want something wholly different from the usual pap that Hollywood serves up in the romantic comedy genre you may well be surprised and delighted. And watch out for the way Barry's ties change colour as the film progresses to match the colour of Lena's dress last time he saw her. Aint that sweet?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 November 2010
A short, weird confection of a film, full of wonderful moments, beautiful shots, terrific performances and odd ironies. Adam Sandler strips away all comic overtones to play an angry, dysfunctional, fragile, obsessive compulsive - who we somehow still care for. Emily Watson just about makes us believe she could fall for this emotional wreck.

While there are echoes of the Coen Bothers, this film is unlike any other I've ever seen. A weird and 90% successful mash-up of Hollywood romantic comedy, art-film, exploration of despair, and surreal playfulness. The first time I saw it, it blew me away. The second time, prepared for its wild twists I could appreciate its subtle details more, but also noticed the holes (e.g. Emily Watson's somewhat underdeveloped character - does she willfully not see Sandler's madness, or what makes her love it?). One of those films I look forward to watching yet again sometime.

While I look forward to a blu-ray edition, Sony's region 1 superbit DVD does look very, very good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2012
Adam Sandler films were and still are huge disapointments to me. The right director, story, characters & cast are of course a big help. It's a rare thing when all of these parts come together. I can just about forgive Adam Sandler anything, purely because of this wonderful film. Sandler's character clearly has emotional issues which causes dificulties in him relating to people in a socially normal (whatever normal means) manner. The family scenes with his sisters are funny and familiar (apparently some of the actors were real family). Emily Watson's character sees past his socially awkward flaws. He has inner demons (which we all have) She sees the beauty, sweetness and the kindness in him. He sees a beautiful and kind girl, who whilst not denying his problems, chooses to see the most important aspects of what it is to be human.

The strangness of the lighting effects and the offbeat percussive tones that accompany several scenes just add to the fantastical weirdness and feel of the film. I love Paul Thomas Anderson's films, though this is my favourite. I would even go as far as to say that this film is a true masterpiece. I do not use that word lightly.

From the understated & measured performance from the excellent Emily Watson to Philp Seymour Hoffman's bad ass character played with true relish. Not forgetting Sandler's very fine performance as the fragile Barry who finds an imeasurable strength through love. He has a love in his life & it makes him stronger than anything you can imagine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 September 2014
A car crash of a rom com movie lacking in either romance or comedy.

Adam Sandler is Barry Egan, a lonely, disturbed, blue-suited, small time businessman with anger issues. His frustrations occasionally express themselves in seemingly unprovoked moments of rage and vandalism, but this doesn’t stop his seven overbearing sisters from matchmaking. Emily Watson’s Lena Leonard enters his life and an awkward courting ensues. Due to an unfortunate incident concerning a phone sex scam, Barry also has to contend with intimidation and extortion. Luckily, his violent streak saves the day and love conquers all.

There is no doubt that Paul Thomas Anderson is a quality director and There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights and Hard Eight are all exceptional films. So what happened here? Perhaps this genre is not his forte? This film may be ‘quirky’ but it lacks the essential ‘truth’ that all good films possess, regardless of type. To succeed as a romantic comedy we must believe that the two leads have a genuine attraction or believable underlying reasons for being together. However, I cannot see why Emily Watson’s character would ever become romantically involved with Barry (a cross between Mr Bean and Jerry Lewis) unless she herself had ‘issues’, but these are not shown. Adam Sandler’s manic, unhinged Woody Allenesque Barry is a credible character, but without the accompanying humour is just a pitiful loser. This is no basis for a romantic comedy, however quirky.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2009
I felt this film an excellent example of what can be acomplished by people that see films art and not just bussiness, it has gotten bad reviews i have noticed, probably because its not one of adam sandlers usual comedy blockbusters like "Little nicky" or "The Waterboy" both of which i liked myself, this film actually shows sandler's acting credentials and that hes not just a big screen clown, i thought this film was full of atmosphere and was deeply thought provoking in relation to the everyday grind of life, if you don't appretiate the films artistic value it would'nt be for you, you'd be better of with something with "Rob Schnieder" as the leading man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Punch drunk is just one of those films that left me reeling from the shear intricacies of the whole thing - I needed to watch it a second time through the next day. Hanging together by tenets threads of sanity it takes you on a whorl wind appreciation of what it is to be both asburgers and abused by your siblings. In terms of Anderson films it finds its place after Magnolia but before There Will Be Blood. My partner was disturbed by it and I was surprised at how many personal issues it raised for me. If you like your film quirky - and a little 1960's (Some of the off planet scans were reminiscent of something from Barbarela) then you will find it challenging. I think that you should be prepared to be amused, delighted and to see something of your self within the characterizations in this film.
Sorry this does not say much about the film story but that's because I think that it is always an encounter with film itself, but the black humor the harmonium and all the acting in it make it worth a look at particularly if you like Andersons other work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2012
If anyone other than a commercial middle of the road star like Adam Sandler had played this role then this film would have grabbed a lot more plaudits. That's a shame because Sandler is - acting against his normal sort of material - superb all the way through it. The film is quirky but don't expect the usual Sandler comedy because you will be disappointed. If you can get over that, then I really believe you'll find yourself enjoying the film. It's a definite grower - in the same way as Lars and The Real Girl starts off being really perplexing but ends up being captivating. There are so many twists and turns before it ends up as a wonderful love story that, for once, isn't tacky. So if you're looking for something a bit more out there than the usual hollywood tat then have a go with this. My only grumble is the extras are a bit disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2015
I give this film five stars, countering the few one-star reviews where the film clearly wasn't for them. This is a surreal (way-off-beat?) rom-com, that caught me by surprise. I watched it without knowing anything about it, that can be the best way to watch a film.

The film puts you into the mindset of loner Barry, an 'undateable', who probably has some kind of psychological problem, suspects it himself, but not being diagnosed has to bumble around life, irritating others and feeling uncomfortable in his own skin. The movie is odd. As such it could be difficult to watch if you already have expectations.

At one point, a scene in the warehouse, the music (constructed with 'found sound'?), is all these weird noises and there is a lot of confusion between the characters. I thought what am I watching? And why is this music so irritating - that's precisely when I got it. The frenetic dialogue and choppy, intrusive music paces you exactly into Barry's frame of mind. You FEEL his discomforted confusion which leads to proper anger - and that is where the genius lays in the film. The film is structured in perfect sympathy with the main character and gives you a much better understanding of Barry's world perception. Life is alien to Barry and Barry seems an alien to others - until Lena.

At this point you start to empathise and even flip a bit, you see it from Barry's view and maybe, as well as him being undeniably odd - it's a Mad World. Of course no new theme there, but one worthy of being reminded and it's a joy to be taken along with the characters in such a unique film that explores issues of alieneity and how love can provide connection in such disconnectedness - as the character falls into more and more painful traps of his own manic devising . . .

NOTE The film can be seen as another take on 'Brazil'. But a better analogy (though the film has a totally different feel), is 'The Science of Sleep'. Both these films can be seen as whimsical on the surface, but actually when you get to the end of 'Science of Sleep' there is some dialogue between the two lovers and Stephane's words are quite cutting, you realise it's not just the film that's dreamy, there is a genuine disconnect with Stephane, revealing a social problem and another key to the film. (I'm saying this from memory).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 November 2012
Clearly not everyone agrees that this is a masterpiece, but I think you have to take it for what is actually shown to you on the screen and judge that. Don't try to worry too much about what is not shown.

Everyone agrees that Adam Sandler gives a magnificent performance, but I was so blown away by it that I think it is worth mentioning again. Sandler plays a loserish small time business man with a suppressed violent streak who gets seduced by Emily Watson (and falls in love with her) while (i) being hounded by seven over-bearing sisters (ii) extorted by Philip Seymour Hoffman's phone sex line operation (iii) trying to collect a million air miles from chocolate pudding and (iv) learning to play a harmonium that someone randomly left on the sidewalk (pavement)

And everyone agrees that the direction, soundtrack and script by Paul Thomas Anderson is quirky. So its a quirky film, and you have to watch it with your quirky pants on, otherwise you'll get an uncomfortable sensation in your nethers. Look again at the points I listed in the last paragraph... Emily Watson does not seduce small time losers - its about as likely as a prince falling in love with a poor girl who's usually covered in cinders (i) no one has seven equally over-bearing sisters - its about as likely as finding seven dwarfs living together in a cottage in the woods (ii) okay, phone sex line operators might extort people, but how this plot line ends is predictably quirky and surreal (iii) chocolate pudding air-miles promotions - need I spell it out? and (iv) no one randomly drops a harmonium on the pavement and drives away - its about as likely as finding gold at the top of a giant beanstalk.

If, for example you start asking yourself the obvious question of why beautiful Emily Watson wants to seduce Adam Sandler then you might as well ask how the wolf managed to dress up in Little Red Riding Hood's grandma's clothes if he didn't have opposable thumbs. There is lots of unexplained background. That is not a flaw in the structure of the film. The unexplained background IS the structure of the film, because although the film has a feeling of realism about it (as opposed to comedy or fantasy genre), nothing in it is supposed to be realistic. It's a quirky far-fetched fairy tale, with a quirky fairy tale happy ending for the modern age - where the lonely 30-something guy gets the girl. That is definitely a fairy tale that I want someone to read to me at night!

If you approach it with this attitude, then you'll probably see it as a masterpiece. If you look for any realism or credibility in it then you're wasting your time.
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