Directed by P.T. Anderson.
Written by P.T. Anderson.
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 10/29/02
I guess you could say that I am a fan of
director Paul Thomas Anderson (now, PT Anderson), but I think that
his films have been decreasing in value with each new effort. My
favorite is still “Hard Eight”, with Philip Baker Hall and Samuel L.
Jackson; it is a great film driven by the performances by Hall and
John C. Reilly. Then came “Boogie Nights”, which has an incredible
first 70% but gets bad in the final half-hour when Don Cheadle
prances around aimlessly and Mark Wahlberg prostitutes himself in
parked cars. “Magnolia” has great moments—and, Tom Cruise’s best
work in years—but ultimately, tries to do too much in its three-hour
run time, including throwing raining frogs into the mix to send us a
So, we come to this, and the big hoopla
around this film is the performance of Adam Sandler as a romantic
lead in “Punch-Drunk Love” and his performance is pretty good. But,
the role is so close to many of Sandler’s other characters—a
half-wit, with stupid-boy charm and a violent, ahem, “Happy
Gilmore”-like tendency to beat the hell out of people to restore
order on occasion—that I wondered why everyone thought this was such
a stretch for Sandler. Here, he plays Barry Egan, a bathroom
products salesman that has seven sisters and a messed-up head
attached to his shoulders. Lonely and confused, he looks for a
psychic and instead calls a phone-sex line headed up by Dean (Philip
Seymour Hoffman, an Anderson regular), and through a series of
mishaps ends up on the run from Dean’s twisted henchman in Los
Angeles. Luckily for Barry, he has recently met a woman named Lena
(Emily Watson) who adores him and happens to be going to Hawaii
soon; to get out of town and avoid the repo men, Barry heads off to
Hawaii to be with Lena.
As usual, Anderson’s visual style and use of
silence and long master shots is very good, and I liked the way he
stuck with Sandler for so many of the film’s shots as he had full
conversations with other characters without cutting back and forth
between characters. Although Sandler has done this kind of
character before, he was still very good at it and added enough
fresh perspectives on this character type to be entertaining.
However, those coming to the theater looking for a lot of Sandler’s
physical comedy will be disappointed by this film, because there is
not much in the way of laughter at the expense of, say, Sandler
falling down or kicking the crap out of a dog. This is mostly
romantic drama, with a few laughs thrown in to lighten the mood.
Watson is an interesting choice for this film; for reasons that I
can’t really explain, seeing her across the dinner table from
Sandler in a romantic setting was mostly intriguing because I felt
that in real life, that would never happen.
Wait, that is what it is about the entire
romantic crux of “Punch-Drunk Love”—would an educated, refined,
well-traveled, attractive older English woman ever go out with a
dimwit that runs a bathroom products business, has a tendency
towards violence and is a pathological liar? Or, more to the
Would Emily Watson EVER go out with Adam
Sandler? Look, I know that I’m a fucking idiot, but there is no way
you can ask me to suspend my disbelief for 90 minutes and trick me
into believing that this romance could ever happen! And, what makes
it even more surprising is that Watson’s character lusts after
Sandler’s character. She plots to meet him, asks him out, calls him
to come up to her room to “hang out”, and seems to want to spend a
good portion of her life with him!! No, no, no!
Otherwise, this is, uh, great stuff.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard