Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Billy Madison finally grew up, and got really, really awkward.

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), who owns a failing company, becomes obsessed with collecting pudding coupons that offer frequent flyer miles. When he learns that a woman (Emily Watson) he met by chance and can’t stop thinking about has left for vacation in Hawaii, he uses his coupons to buy a trip and find her.

Everybody who has ever seen any of P.T. Anderson‘s flicks know two things about him: 1. he likes his films very, very long, and 2. he can make anything work. Even though he kind of disregards #1, he gets #2 down perfectly.

I have probably seen this flick about 4 times and just about every time it gets better and better with each viewing. So many people complain about how it’s not as funny as it should be and how it’s just a weird movie, which it’s supposed to be…maybe. Anderson is a director amongst directors. He essentially takes a very odd story, about an odd man, and brings it into some pretty strange places that include a phone-sex operator, frequent flyer miles, pudding, a piano, and a bed & mattress owner. Yeah, if that sounds pretty strange don’t worry, because it is and I wouldn’t have had it any other way with this one. Anderson knows that this film is goofy but he never lets loose of his direction and as much as he allows all of this weird stuff to happen, he still gives a lot of time to this romance at the core of it all and that’s what really brought me over.

The romance is so sweet and innocence that when you have all of this crazy ish, with people yelling and cussin’ at each other, it sort of makes you want to beat everybody else up that tries to get in the way of it. You can definitely feel a lot of love coming from this little thing these two have going on here but there are so many other emotions going on through here as well, that it’s almost too hard to be fixated on one. People that say this film isn’t funny really need to see this flick again because it’s all of the small, subtle things are what makes it funny. The perfect example is when one of Barry’s employees ask him why he’s wearing a suit to work, and Barry tells him, “I don’t know, I just wanted to get dressed up for work”. Makes no sense, but who cares. However, the next day Barry is at work, you see that same employee wearing a suit with a tie and it just made me laugh my ass off. Maybe that’s not a perfect example as to how and why this flick is so damn funny in it’s little way, but it’s certain things like that for you to pick up on that make movies like this so damn special.

As great as this story may be though, you still can’t forget about this flick without forgetting to mention Anderson’s incredible vision, that makes everything just look like it came from a painting. Seriously, I know a lot of people say that about certain movies in certain reviews, but I mean that here: sometimes this film looks like a painting. There’s a lot of wonderful color art sequences that come around every once and awhile that are astonishing to check out, but the way Anderson gives the camera this very dark look gives this film a distinct look that I haven’t seen before. I really can’t put my fingers on what it is but the way this camera looks with a hint of darkness to bring down all of the color, gives this film a tone. I think I’m just speaking a whole bunch of jibber-jabber, but it’s a beautiful film the whole time, especially a couple of great romantic sequences that get you right into the feeling that you’re in love with these two people as well.

If I had any c0mplaints here, it was that I think that Barry’s sisters were a little too mean for me to believe. I understand that there are sisters and brothers of certain people out there that are very mean but I also can’t understand some relatives like these ones, treating another relative in such a terrible, and bratty way, especially when they know that the person has some emotional problems. It seemed like a lot of it was to go along with the ridiculous plot but it just felt like it was trying way too hard to get me inside of Barry’s head and feel the pain he feels because in all honesty, the character of Barry Egan is an amazing one as it is.

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: Barry Egan is Adam Sandler‘s best performance ever. There! I said it people! Sandler pulls out everything within him to make this character work and it’s the one performance that’s made us all realize that this guy can do drama, and make some of the weirdest characters work, no matter how painfully awkward they are. Barry Egan is such a strong character as it is because the dude is a nice, but lonely dude who just wants to be appreciated and treated nicely by the people around him. However, his sisters are all terrible bitches to him, he can’t seem to get a date with any girl, and he’s getting effed over by these phone-sex line people that just want all of his money. This guy has a lot of sympathy already going for him but Sandler takes him up a couple of notches. Sandler shows us a very subtle side to his acting but also shows that he can still make you still crack up, even if he isn’t doing any goofy faces or noises. Instead, the guy just relies on his very dry and awkward sense of comedy that shows a character that really can’t fit it anywhere he goes and you just can’t stop rooting for him the whole flick. It also gets better when Egan starts to show signs of a real bad-ass but I’ll leave it at that, because it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. I don’t know if this last paragraph does Sandler’s performance any justice but all I can say is that it’s a memorable performance and the best Sandler has, and maybe will ever do.

Emily Watson wasn’t really given all that much to do here as Lena Leonard, but she pulls off being cute, charming, nice, sweet, and convincing very well and it’s easy to see why she would fall in love with such a wacko like Barry Egan. Let me also not forget to mention that the chemistry her and Sandler have is actually pretty good, if you can believe that. I also can’t forget to mention this flick without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the dickheads that eff with Egan from the phone-sex line and a lot of his scenes are just perfect, especially by the end. Oh and Luiz Guzman is here. Can’t forget about him.

Consensus: Though it’s not for everyone, Punch-Drunk Love is one of the best romantic films of all-time with a strange story that gets stranger and stranger as it goes along, a vision from Anderson that shows he can make any style of film-making work with any story, and a couple of great performances from the cast, especially Adam Sandler who has never been better. Ever.

9/10=Full Price!!


  1. I really enjoyed this but it didnt quite work as well as I expected. Something about it just didn’t click. Maybe it’s because I detest Sandler with a passion. Hoffman was very special here though. Nice write-up Dan.

  2. I agree with you that it is Sandler’s best performance. I wish he would try more to be a real actor instead of just relying on his juvinile Humour.

    Nice Review, but you mentioned that Barry Egan(Adam Sandler) owns a phone sex buisness but he works at a place that sells plungers and other assorted items.

  3. While I can appreciate Sandler’s performance in this film (for once he wasn’t playing an idiot), the movie as a whole just didn’t grab me. I don’t know why.

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