PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)

Posted in THE LUNCH MOVIE CHRONICLES: The original e-mail announcements that were sent through our office the evening before we rolled a Lunch Movie on September 11th, 2009 by Jim Delaney

From Friday, July 18, 2008

Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzman.

Barry Egan (Sandler) is a fella in bad need of a hug. Or a puppy. Or anything to take him away from his life. He works in an aluminum plated concrete wasteland in The Valley. His seven older sisters crush, by design or accident, any semblance of masculinity he tries to muster. He can barely raise his voice to speak up for himself. When Barry meets a woman who inspires him to run away form his soul-crushing existence, he quietly devises ad ingenious plan to facilitate their escape.

This is Paul Thomas Anderson at his most potent. The epic themes and operatic emotions performed by entire ensembles in his 2 1/2+ hour films (BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA, THERE WILL BE BLOOD) are here distilled into two lonely people at odds with everything around them. That’s a lot for only 2 actors to support — who woulda guessed The Waterboy could carry such weight?!

It’ll finish Tuesday
Love, Jim

AFTER THOUGHT from 9.11.09
Though PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE does not sport the label “Based On/Inspired By A True Story” Anderson was in fact inspired by a man who pulled a similar get-rich-quick scam to the one Barry engineers. In a rare instance of movies getting it right by not following the facts too closely, Anderson simply asked himself “What does your life have to be like that you would even think to do something like this?!” And there, inspired by reality but born from Anderson’s own idea of a worst-case scenario, Barry Egan emerged.

I’d like to say that in years to come, Barry Egan will be regarded as Adam Sandler’s finest performance. I doubt that will happen though. It is simply too out-there, with all the giddy joy of his goofier movies but also with a genuine rage that had previously only been exaggerated as a gag. It is too subtly drawn in ways that cannot be marketed on a poster. In short, Barry Egan joins Harrison Ford’s Allie Fox as a character who will only be appreciated by those who appreciate actors willing to turn their “brand” upside down and inside out.

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