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Punch-Drunk Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Punch-Drunk Love

Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rated: R
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Eureka! A startling discovery: Adam Sandler can act! It's a far cry from "Happy Gilmore" and "Mr. Deeds" as Sandler plays Barry Egan, a bathroom supplies wholesaler in this amusing, artsy romantic comedy set in the San Fernando Valley. With seven emotionally abusive sisters, it's no wonder that Barry's a social misfit, prone to self-hatred and anxiety attacks that wreak havoc on his surroundings. Lonely and depressed, he turns to a phone-sex service and, having given his credit card number, inadvertently becomes involved in a sleazy extortion scheme. Meanwhile, Barry's photo catches the fancy of Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), a divorced friend of one of his sisters. She pursues him and the chemistry clicks. They develop a sweetly giddy, if chaotic, relationship, peppered with oddly jarring dialogue like, "I want to smash your face," he says. To which she tenderly replies, "I want to scoop out your eyes and eat them." Inevitably, things go awry, requiring a trip to Hawaii. Otherwise there'd be no plot. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson got the idea after reading a "Time" article about David Phillips, known as the Pudding Guy, having invested $3,000 to accumulate 1.25 million airline miles by buying 12,150 cups of Healthy Choice pudding. But the real revelation is Adam Sandler. He restrains his usual schtick and really embodies this quirky, enigmatic - if two-dimensional - character. Could this be the year that Adam Sandler gets an Oscar nomination? Crazier things have happened. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Punch-Drunk Love" is a bizarre, off-beat 8. While still self-conscious, it's superbly visual and far more accessible than P.T. Anderson's "Boogie Nights" or "Magnolia" and curiously reminiscent of the quirky "Pennies From Heaven" (1981) starring Steve Martin.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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