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Overall Rating
3.88

Awesome48.96%
Worth A Look: 16.67%
Average: 17.19%
Pretty Bad: 7.29%
Total Crap: 9.9%

11 reviews, 126 user ratings


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Punch-Drunk Love
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Collin Souter

"In P.T. Anderson's world, love knows no fine print."
5 stars

We first see Adam Sandler in a nice blue business suit on the left hand side of the screen sitting at a desk and talking on the phone. Later, one of the other characters asks him why he showed up to work wearing the suit. He replies, “I don’t know. I just felt like wearing a suit.” The rest of the employees in his place of working, a warehouse, have on t-shirts and jeans. Wait a minute. What just happened? Shouldn’t Sandler be the one wearing t-shirts and jeans while everyone else has to show up at work wearing a suit? In a Paul Thomas Anderson picture, nothing goes before the cameras unless there can be some sort of twist on a convention. Thus, “Punch-Drunk Love” is not your usual love story. It is not your usual tale of angst. And it is certainly not your stupid fratboy’s Adam Sandler.

Those who saw Anderson’s previous effort (for my money, the best film of 1999), “Magnolia,” should know that while he has cut his running time in half (91 minutes) and cast a critic-proof box office star, he still has no idea how to make an ordinary movie. In a Paul Thomas Anderson picture, a kiss is never—never! –just a kiss. A kiss has suspense, laughter, joy, tragedy and a climax. In a Paul Thomas Anderson picture, you won’t get a kiss for the sake of one so that the audience will go home happy. One must truly earn a kiss, and “Punch-Drunk Love” earns its share and then some. As with all of Anderson’s films, it is a truly unique, totally original moviegoing experience.

(SPOILER’S WARNING)
“Magnolia” ended with a rain of frogs that left some viewer’s thrilled, some baffled and annoyed, and others truly pondering its existence. “Punch-Drunk Love” opens with a “frog scene” so that the viewer can decide right off the bat whether or not they want to stick through this film. The “frogs” come in the form of a piano (or is it?) dropped off under the most mysterious of circumstances at a warehouse park where Sandler works. Sander plays Barry Egan, who sells…things. We don’t really know what, except that at one point we see him demonstrating an un-breakable handle to a plastic toilet plunger.

Lately, Barry has been obsessing over a promotion regarding Healthy Choice Foods. If someone buys 10 items from Healthy Choice Foods, they will earn 500 Frequent Flyer miles. Barry doesn’t see anything in the fine print about limits or expiration dates. When he goes shopping, he loads his shopping cart with 29-cent cups of pudding as his proof-of-purchase (a loophole Barry spots as a truly backwards move on the part of Healthy Choice Foods).

Barry’s world gets turned upside down when Lena (Emily Watson), an only-child, walks into his life one morning when she takes her car to get it repaired at the mechanics next door. By coincidence, she also happens to be friends with one of Barry’s sisters, Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub). After an awkward first-date set up (sort of) by Elizabeth, Lena and Barry go out and get to know one another. Lena has no idea, though, that Barry has just become a victim of a phone-sex scam where an underground group of con artists (led by the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has just used his credit card number to make a mess of his financial standing. This, of course, adds to Barry’s anger problems, but I’d rather not go into too much detail on this aspect of the story.

Oh, and Barry also has seven sisters. Repeat: Seven. Anderson uses this fact as the sole reason behind Barry’s anger management issues. Barry has no real social life. He lives alone and doesn’t like himself very much. But every time one of his sisters meddles with his existence or fails to help him, the anger builds. I know what you’re thinking: Adam Sandler has anger management problems. Ooooo, how original! Sandler’s fits aren’t played for slapstick or straight laughs. There exists a real sadness and depth to the weight of his problems.
(SPOILER’S END)

Many have speculated that Anderson has been trying to thwart people’s expectations after the audacious “Magnolia” by casting Sandler in a 91-minute romantic comedy. Some people have viewed this as just a cocky stunt. As a former detractor of Sandler’s (I used to really detest this guy), I must say that Anderson made the best choice by casting him in this role. He has written moments that only a certain type of actor can pull off, and Sandler is clearly up to every task. In some cases, Sandler has to say his lines with his back turned to the camera, which has always been one of those moments that really tests an actor’s ability. In one scene in particular, we can feel Barry’s pain and need for companionship even though we can’t see his face.

Emily Watson, the actress on the other side of this scene, has us believing at every turn that she has fallen for this guy. Watson has always been one of my favorite actresses out there and I found it a pleasure to finally see her in a romantic lead rather than as a martyr of some sort. Here, she doesn’t just react to everything Sandler does, as one would normally expect in an Adam Sandler movie. She has her own voice and she doesn’t spend the movie trying to dissect Barry’s psyche. She connects with it and he connects with her (there’s a perfectly good reason Anderson cast a woman with an English accent). There exists a true passion, a warmth of innocence and an incredible honesty between these two characters.

“Punch-Drunk Love” tells the story of a troubled man trying to find a human being with whom he can emotionally connect while living in his world of fine prints, expiration dates, credit card scams and a past seemingly devoid of a male role model (his sisters used to tease him by calling him “Gay boy”). Barry wears a blue suit while making a living in a white, stale world just as a stunning woman in red enters his picture. Only when the movie detours to a little island to the left of America does the atmosphere feel warm, inviting and romantic. Throughout the rest of the movie, these characters struggle to maintain their newfound happiness in a world of greed, ugliness and emptiness. It focuses on two characters who can detach themselves from the idea of how a typical American relationship should function. “Punch-Drunk Love” is Romantic Comedy done right for a change, and is one of the year’s very best films.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6201&reviewer=233
originally posted: 10/16/02 22:32:21
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User Comments

3/08/17 Louise (the actual one) This was rubbish 2 stars
5/03/15 Chilly Dong Thornton not enough room to explain why this critic is terrible at his job 5 stars
3/02/14 josie cotton is a goddess Brilliant movie! Sandler is terrific! 5 stars
1/29/10 dlenmnodth DmVWDJ 3 stars
10/02/09 david jensen It took a 2nd viewing for me, but this film catapulted itself from ok- to my favorite ever 5 stars
7/23/09 the dork knight Well, the movie makes no sense but its loser protagonist is all-too familiar to some of us 3 stars
6/30/09 Duffy Johnson Terrible...misfires on all levels. Had I seen it in a theatre I may have walked out 1 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner Sandler makes some great films! 5 stars
7/30/08 the dork knight I didn't quite get it. But the ending was original 3 stars
5/24/08 PAUL SHORTT GIMMICKS IN SEARCH OF A HEART & A SOUL 1 stars
5/04/08 Justin If you hate this film the go on and make a better one and be more acclaimed then Anderson 5 stars
5/24/07 ES The music is horrific but the story and the characters are perfect 4 stars
5/02/07 nigel unwatchable 1 stars
1/15/07 jeannie karlsen Adam Sandler is so much better in roles like this. He's shockingly brilliant. 5 stars
12/11/06 David Meyerhoff A cinematic masterpiece with heart...captures what true love is with all its imperfections. 5 stars
5/02/06 Anthony Feor An Adam Sandlar movie where he is calm most of the time, I know, im surprised too 4 stars
3/19/06 MP Bartley A real grower. Weird at first, its greatness slowly dawns on you. 4 stars
2/11/06 Eric Evans Brilliant! A love story that makes one FEEL the romance, love, and animal attraction. 5 stars
2/11/06 Eric Evans PTA proves that his consummate style has the breadth to build an awesome oeuvre. 5 stars
1/04/06 Dick Nora Ephron + Acid + Camera = PDL. Interesting, fun & worth several viewings. 4 stars
12/29/05 R.W.Welch Flaky but inventive. Has a certain style to it. 4 stars
12/24/05 Nate Great movie. Too bad most Sandler fans will think Billy Madison is better. 5 stars
12/01/05 Sophie Fantastique 5 stars
8/03/05 ALDO People who don't like this movie don't get it, and that's okay. I don't get Dave Matthews 5 stars
6/18/05 K. Sear After the brilliance of Magnolia, I was sorely disappointed with this. 1 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Completely overrated. 3 stars
6/04/05 Mike Jozic I'm not a big Adam Sandler or P.T. Anderson fan and I was mesmerized by PDL. 4 stars
6/01/05 Dan What the FUCK is wrong with YOU PEOPLE You think you get something out of this shit! My god 1 stars
5/27/05 Jake Adam Sandler gives the best performance of career in a great and quirky film. 5 stars
3/08/05 Hydrian The first half is slow moving, but otherwise not bad. 3 stars
2/22/05 ELI Sandler should make more movies like this! 5 stars
12/13/04 Jim Oddly fascinating, like a train wreck or natural disaster. Sandler can act, who knew? 4 stars
9/22/04 Johnno It's such a beautiful movie.I feel the urge to smash the f#cke* thing with a sledgehammer. 5 stars
9/13/04 Juggalo FUckin awesome Sandler is AMAZING! 5 stars
9/13/04 chris. sigh. shut the fuck up. 5 stars
8/16/04 Rusty Klichowicz David Hollands review of this oone is based on ignorance 3 stars
7/21/04 dropdead Very insightful. Thoroughly enjoyed this film. 5 stars
6/29/04 Monster W. Kung 'Bobby Fisher' first learn how to spell, you dumbass. 1 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed Visually very pleasing, conceptually interesting, acting is ok. Hideous Sandler fight bit. 3 stars
6/09/04 Ama Simard sucks almost as bad as magnolia 1 stars
5/24/04 DM darkofnight, I have yet to see you give a favorable review - is there a weed up your ass? 4 stars
5/23/04 Butterbean New angle at a love story. "He needs me" from Popeye was a nice touch. 3 stars
5/11/04 the bride Monster W. Kung you're a total fuckwit. You obviously haven't a clue what a decent film is. 5 stars
5/08/04 staffy i liked this film alot, but found the soundtrack a bit loud! dvd extras r hypnotic. 4 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot what great film.not telling my friends about it,they just wouldnt understand.sandler, almos 5 stars
5/06/04 Bobby Fisher INSIGHTFULL REVIEW MONSTER, genius, suddenly sandler is loved again 5 stars
3/24/04 George Jung Perfect. 5 stars
3/17/04 Holly Beeman If you don't like this movie, it's probably because you don't get it. Sandler can -act-! 5 stars
3/05/04 Monster W. Kung Horrible. Anderson sucks balls. 1 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge *I* thought that this movie was a work of cinematic genius.Subtle and wonky. Not bad at all 5 stars
2/16/04 jdogg This critic sucks! He had no intention of giving this a fair viewing! What an asshole! 4 stars
2/16/04 the gourd This movie sucks, but the guy who reviewed this is a fucking moron. Go kill yourself. 2 stars
2/15/04 Lord Chu Why is darkofknight reviewing for this site? It ruins my day just to know he exists. 5 stars
2/15/04 Jack Sommersby Sandler is first-rate, but direction is too heavy-handed & overdeliberate. Grating stuff. 2 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Nice to see Adam Sandler acting normal for a change! Odd couple, but still totally sweet! 4 stars
1/10/04 joekraw a breathtaking masterpiece for people who understand what cinema truly is 5 stars
12/14/03 Agent Sands Possibly better than "Magnolia." Sandler's proved himself talented. This is a winner! 5 stars
11/27/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng Terrific movie. Fuck all y'all who hate this movie. I love it! Adam Sandler can act. 5 stars
11/22/03 Phil M. Aficionado Unique/unconventional; bittersweet; great role for Sandler (whom I do not like, generally) 4 stars
11/13/03 Daniel Stockman This movie was too caught up in bullshit pishy posh unrealistic crap, made no sense at all. 1 stars
11/10/03 Jonathan P Your reviewer had a brain fart the day he wrote his review. Too bad for him. 4 stars
10/14/03 Erik Van Sant Perfect. Sandler is outstanding. It's hard to explain how this movie makes you feel. 5 stars
10/02/03 Nate Ubowski Splendid 5 stars
8/17/03 barry casting.sandler.brilliant.attempt.to.target.an.audience.that.NEEDS.to.get.it.but.they.don't 5 stars
8/17/03 Ingo What a intense movie that is - have to see it a couple more times... 5 stars
8/13/03 Zel Hilarious- Unless you think you are too witty or manly to enjoy this twisted love story. 5 stars
8/10/03 Al Worse than FREEDY GOT FINGERED. Everyone involved should seek theropy. 1 stars
8/09/03 josh fantastic 5 stars
8/09/03 john anderson Yet another critic leaps upon the Paul Thomas Anderson bandwagon. This film is atrocious. 1 stars
7/31/03 Loraan Things happen without explanation... just go with it. Great ride! 5 stars
7/29/03 greensweater stylistic but tedious, mildly wierd 3 stars
7/17/03 Marc This Movie sucked. I tried to get into the movie, but couldn't. Waste of money to rent.:( 1 stars
7/14/03 skye magnolia it ain't. by a LONG shot. but i'm glad many of you were able to enjoy it. not me. 1 stars
7/12/03 HAROLD TOBMAN A riveting demonstation of our ability to be reborn through the power of love - brilliant 5 stars
7/10/03 Dan This movie was TOTAL SHIT!!!! 1 stars
7/06/03 sharon huh what...kinda lame at first but liked it when he kicked the brothers asses!!!go barry 3 stars
7/02/03 Flop I honestly don't get it. Where was the story? And whats with the piano? 2 stars
7/02/03 Belle This was absolutely horrible... too many loose ends 1 stars
7/01/03 dsplash33 how can you bash this movie? assholes, go watch 2 fast 2 furious, one dimensional losers 5 stars
7/01/03 Dag Great movie. Some of these people below are just idiots..... 5 stars
6/22/03 Dead_duck A pile of shit. No ending. No plot. No chemistry. Paul, find a new job. 1 stars
6/12/03 Joe Excellent movie....can totally relate to Egan. 5 stars
6/11/03 Albie Great. The movie made me squirm for Sandler's character. 5 stars
5/25/03 John40 best film of 2002 5 stars
5/22/03 Kris I do not get it and I do not get Sandler. 3 stars
5/22/03 monkeyman 4 words... ADAM SANDLER SUX ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/06/03 Pagey Indulgent direction, distracting score, irritating characters. 2 stars
4/24/03 Elendil Wow, I can't believe that Sandler didn't urinate on anything. 5 stars
4/22/03 Jim the movie geek One joke, implausible story, no star chemistry, black comedy that misses! 2 stars
4/22/03 Aiken Drum Its Ok, but not great. Weird for the sake of being weird which doesn't work imo. 4 stars
4/19/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik weird and wonderful 5 stars
4/09/03 Jim Renwick Good movie & worth seeing 4 stars
4/07/03 rik dont get it 2 stars
3/27/03 Allison Lafferty There are likeable characters; there are likeable freaky chars.; these mostly just freaky. 3 stars
3/22/03 mattski a really edgy off the wall film that works. comedy with very sharp edges 5 stars
3/22/03 Maegs I simply loved this movie 4 stars
3/20/03 Tiffany Thunderhurst Refreshing little not-all-that-believable diversion; nothing extremely special. 4 stars
3/18/03 Kyle Pretty good, exactly what I was expecting. 4 stars
3/05/03 Andrew Carden Cute Little Dramedy With Great Performances. 5 stars
2/22/03 Jon hilariously sadly funny 5 stars
1/25/03 Goofy Maxwell Not so absurd really, this must be the way Punch & Judy hooked up. 5 stars
11/27/02 Zack W. Young Greatest movie ever made, no exxageration 5 stars
11/26/02 Robert Shelby One of the best originals ever made. Anderson's view is like nothing on this planet, (true) 5 stars
11/26/02 marzio arigoni@rtsi.ch Nice movie, it deserved a price in Cannes, where I saw it. A surprise! 4 stars
11/25/02 Sid Vicious Great movie... not for the weak of mind... 5 stars
11/21/02 Anarchy Azmi STEVE is gay he probably liked titanic or something....cant wait for the dvd 5 stars
11/18/02 Nicole What a bizzaro movie! 3 stars
11/10/02 Jake i loved this movie 5 stars
11/10/02 FrayLo not the greatest, but still a movie that's got something deeper to say about love... 4 stars
11/09/02 spaceworm Far too sharp to make the usual Sandler millions; will be the first of his I'll own on DVD 5 stars
11/04/02 .Choadushouse. I was surprisingly non-entertained. Felt the film was pointless. Sandler was good though. 3 stars
11/03/02 Brian PTA's no Fellini 2 stars
11/03/02 STEVE FIRST TIME I HAVE EVER WALKED OUT HALFWAY THROUGH A MOVIE! 1 stars
11/02/02 ajay I left the theatre wanting more! btw, hated Magnolia loved Boogie Nights 5 stars
10/29/02 Scott The movie's not about Emily Watson. It's about Barry Egan. Understand and appreciate 5 stars
10/29/02 jerppy Best movie I've seen in a long while. 5 stars
10/29/02 jefftucson I hated this movie. What a waste of Emily watson's talent! 1 stars
10/28/02 lucas holy shit 5 stars
10/27/02 Lisa More than just a "romantic fable"...I was challenged with other "insights" 5 stars
10/27/02 Eric fucking a 5 stars
10/26/02 apple jack best movie ever, man 5 stars
10/25/02 Anarchy Azmi damn weird...love it 5 stars
10/20/02 Jeff GoodSmith unbelieveable... I didn't know that Adam Sandler could ever achieve as much as he did. 5 stars
10/18/02 Westside Johnny This movie is pure. 5 stars
10/15/02 PT Anderson is a genius Finally someone who can control Adam Sandler's idiotic tendencies and make him a real actor 5 stars
10/13/02 "Yes the shit." Honest nice style, good talent. But nothing special. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Oct-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Apr-2003




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