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Overall Rating
3.88

Awesome48.96%
Worth A Look: 16.67%
Just Average: 17.19%
Pretty Crappy: 7.29%
Sucks: 9.9%

11 reviews, 126 user ratings


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Punch-Drunk Love
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by Erik Childress

"An Insane Romantic Comedy.....Just Like Love Itself!"
5 stars

It would take some kind of mad genius to get critics to give high praise to a film starring Adam Sandler. Fortunately for the world of film, Paul Thomas Anderson is that mad genius. After two-and-a-half hours of Boogie Nights and over three of Magnolia, P.T. swore to the studios that his next film would be a 90-minute Sandler comedy. And he was straight-faced. He certainly succeeded in getting the length right, but his version of an Adam Sandler comedy is different than what fans of Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer identify with. Anderson has taken what we regularly see from the comedian and molded a character just for him into a story that is so fresh, so original, so twisted and insane that Sandler fans and foes may not know what to make of it, at least at first sight.

The Sandler persona has played a variation of itself in every film heís headlined; a soft-spoken guy who occasionally throws a hell-beating on someone. There was never much of a reason for it, but it was always good a laugh-filled comuppance. Anderson has taken that variation and supplied it with a motive. Sandler plays Barry Egan, a mild-mannered novelty salesman who has been tormented by his seven sisters since childhood. When unable to forget about the horrible treatment heís received, heís prone to fits of violent rage. (A nice warmup for Sandlerís 2003 comedy, Anger Management, with Jack Nicholson.)

His sister, Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub), insists on setting him up with a co-worker but his temperance would rather keep him alone in his apartment to try phone sex. That is until he discovers that Elizabethís friend is Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) whom Barry met in a chance encounter just the morning before and felt an instant allure, if not love at first sight. This extraordinary second meeting occurs in an out-of-control sequence where you can feel Barry on the verge of a nervous breakdown, dealing with work, his sisters and threats from his interactive phone partner to extort money from him and Anderson takes us right along with him.

Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic fable, pure and simple. The rest of the film deals exclusively with the burgeoning relationship between Barry and Lena, a woman who accepts Barry for who he is and makes it easy for him to love her. Examine the way she holds him when they embrace and how she tells him things that he has to do, not out of a desire for control or bitchiness, but simple tips that any man in love with a woman should follow.

P.T. Anderson understands the grandness of romance and how love is the great equalizer that can calm us of our daily ills and bring out joys in our lives that we never knew were possible. While no doctor diagnoses what troubles Barry, a trend towards obsessive compulsiveness in buying Healthy Choice products to rack up frequent flyer miles turns into a quixotic gesture to fly out and be with Lena. Scenes like this parlayed with a grocery store dance of joy, Barryís desperation to find Lenaís apartment door for their first kiss or how their silhouettes meet in the colors of Hawaii are the moments romantics long for in the movies.

Sandler either gives an extraordinary performance or Anderson has just painted in everything around that persona was missing. His turn as Barry is funny, pathetic and at times, scary; a mask of unconfidence and longing that finally finds his yang in Watsonís Lena. If Anderson is the artist here than Watson is the paint. She accomplishes what the great actresses in romantic tales do; she makes you fall in love with her. You can have the best writing in the world, but if you donít have someone who knows how to speak or to give you that perfect look in their eyes, than the connection wonít stick. Watsonís does and itís a glorious performance. And if Watson is the paint, than Philip Seymour Hoffman is a Pollock painting in a tornado, as Anderson gives him carte blanche as a sleazy furniture salesman to just fly over-the-top.

Itís taken me a few days, but each passing one makes me appreciate Punch-Drunk Love all the more. My second viewing cinched it. The Sandler elite and detractors of Magnolia may squint their eyes, look baffled in all its maniacal strokes and go Barry Egan on those who recommended it to them, but it may be worth the beating because films like this donít come along too often. From the shocking opening scene to the symbolic harmonium, itís funny, strange and imaginatively romantic. There may not seem to be much to Punch-Drunk Love until it finally dawns on you that itís about love. What more is there to say?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6201&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/16/02 00:04:05
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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
3/01/14 josie cotton is a goddess Brilliant movie! Sandler is terrific! 5 stars
1/29/10 dlenmnodth DmVWDJ 3 stars
10/01/09 david jensen It took a 2nd viewing for me, but this film catapulted itself from ok- to my favorite ever 5 stars
7/22/09 the dork knight Well, the movie makes no sense but its loser protagonist is all-too familiar to some of us 3 stars
6/29/09 Duffy Johnson Terrible...misfires on all levels. Had I seen it in a theatre I may have walked out 1 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Sandler makes some great films! 5 stars
7/29/08 the dork knight I didn't quite get it. But the ending was original 3 stars
5/23/08 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
5/23/07 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
12/10/06 David Meyerhoff A cinematic masterpiece with heart...captures what true love is with all its imperfections. 5 stars
5/01/06 Anthony Feor An Adam Sandlar movie where he is calm most of the time, I know, im surprised too 4 stars
3/18/06 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
1/03/06 Dick Nora Ephron + Acid + Camera = PDL. Interesting, fun & worth several viewings. 4 stars
12/28/05 R.W.Welch Flaky but inventive. Has a certain style to it. 4 stars
12/23/05 Nate Great movie. Too bad most Sandler fans will think Billy Madison is better. 5 stars
11/30/05 Sophie Fantastique 5 stars
8/02/05 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
6/04/05 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
5/31/05 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
3/07/05 Hydrian The first half is slow moving, but otherwise not bad. 3 stars
2/21/05 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
9/21/04 Johnno It's such a beautiful movie.I feel the urge to smash the f#cke* thing with a sledgehammer. 5 stars
9/12/04 Juggalo FUckin awesome Sandler is AMAZING! 5 stars
9/12/04 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
6/28/04 Monster W. Kung 'Bobby Fisher' first learn how to spell, you dumbass. 1 stars
6/13/04 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
5/23/04 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
5/10/04 the bride Monster W. Kung you're a total fuckwit. You obviously haven't a clue what a decent film is. 5 stars
5/07/04 staffy i liked this film alot, but found the soundtrack a bit loud! dvd extras r hypnotic. 4 stars
5/05/04 J.Peckerfoot what great film.not telling my friends about it,they just wouldnt understand.sandler, almos 5 stars
5/05/04 Bobby Fisher INSIGHTFULL REVIEW MONSTER, genius, suddenly sandler is loved again 5 stars
3/24/04 George Jung Perfect. 5 stars
3/16/04 Holly Beeman If you don't like this movie, it's probably because you don't get it. Sandler can -act-! 5 stars
3/04/04 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
2/15/04 jdogg This critic sucks! He had no intention of giving this a fair viewing! What an asshole! 4 stars
2/15/04 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
2/14/04 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
1/09/04 joekraw a breathtaking masterpiece for people who understand what cinema truly is 5 stars
12/13/03 Agent Sands Possibly better than "Magnolia." Sandler's proved himself talented. This is a winner! 5 stars
11/26/03 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
11/12/03 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
10/13/03 Erik Van Sant Perfect. Sandler is outstanding. It's hard to explain how this movie makes you feel. 5 stars
10/01/03 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
8/16/03 Ingo What a intense movie that is - have to see it a couple more times... 5 stars
8/12/03 Zel Hilarious- Unless you think you are too witty or manly to enjoy this twisted love story. 5 stars
8/09/03 Al Worse than FREEDY GOT FINGERED. Everyone involved should seek theropy. 1 stars
8/08/03 josh fantastic 5 stars
8/08/03 john anderson Yet another critic leaps upon the Paul Thomas Anderson bandwagon. This film is atrocious. 1 stars
7/30/03 Loraan Things happen without explanation... just go with it. Great ride! 5 stars
7/28/03 greensweater stylistic but tedious, mildly wierd 3 stars
7/16/03 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
7/11/03 HAROLD TOBMAN A riveting demonstation of our ability to be reborn through the power of love - brilliant 5 stars
7/09/03 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
6/30/03 dsplash33 how can you bash this movie? assholes, go watch 2 fast 2 furious, one dimensional losers 5 stars
6/30/03 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
6/11/03 Joe Excellent movie....can totally relate to Egan. 5 stars
6/10/03 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
5/21/03 monkeyman 4 words... ADAM SANDLER SUX ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/05/03 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
4/21/03 Aiken Drum Its Ok, but not great. Weird for the sake of being weird which doesn't work imo. 4 stars
4/18/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik weird and wonderful 5 stars
4/08/03 Jim Renwick Good movie & worth seeing 4 stars
4/06/03 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
3/21/03 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
3/17/03 Kyle Pretty good, exactly what I was expecting. 4 stars
3/04/03 Andrew Carden Cute Little Dramedy With Great Performances. 5 stars
2/21/03 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
11/26/02 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
11/25/02 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
11/17/02 Nicole What a bizzaro movie! 3 stars
11/10/02 Jake i loved this movie 5 stars
11/09/02 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
11/03/02 .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
11/02/02 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
10/28/02 Scott The movie's not about Emily Watson. It's about Barry Egan. Understand and appreciate 5 stars
10/28/02 jerppy Best movie I've seen in a long while. 5 stars
10/28/02 jefftucson I hated this movie. What a waste of Emily watson's talent! 1 stars
10/27/02 lucas holy shit 5 stars
10/26/02 Lisa More than just a "romantic fable"...I was challenged with other "insights" 5 stars
10/26/02 Eric fucking a 5 stars
10/25/02 apple jack best movie ever, man 5 stars
10/24/02 Anarchy Azmi damn weird...love it 5 stars
10/19/02 Jeff GoodSmith unbelieveable... I didn't know that Adam Sandler could ever achieve as much as he did. 5 stars
10/17/02 Westside Johnny This movie is pure. 5 stars
10/14/02 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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