Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a little bit different. He runs a plastic plunger company with his business partner Lance (Luis Guzman), and is constantly being hassled by his seven sisters, who belittle him and essentially ruin his life at every turn, as they have his entire life. One day, a harmonium (kind of like a small piano, I’d never heard of them before) is dropped outside the industrial estate on which he works, and shortly afterwards a woman named Lena (Emily Watson) shows up too. Then some more stuff happens involving a phone sex line and an awful lot of pudding.
As a self-proclaimed movie blogger, I’m acutely aware that there’s a lot of people in the same field who do this kind of thing far better than I could ever hope to. As such, I’m going to start off by directing you towards one of the best, Alex Withrow of And So It Begins, who recently wrote a post on all the things he loves about Punch-Drunk Love that aren’t normally discussed. I read his post a while ago and, during my re-watching of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, most of the notes I made were subconscious rememberings of things Alex pointed out in his post, so instead of rewriting them all, I suggest you go check out his post instead. You can find it here.
Now, what do I think of the film? Well, I’m not too sure. I definitely have a positive view of it, but I can’t really put my finger on why. The overall story doesn’t particularly grab me – a socially inept man falls in love with a friend of his sister’s, but has to deal with a blackmailing phone sex line before settling down with his new ladyfriend – but I think, as with most PTA movies, there’s enough key stand-out scenes here to grab and hold my attention. The highlight of these for me is a phone call, a simple call between two men, Sandler’s Barry and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Mattress Man (he’s actually called Dean, but to me he’s always the Mattress Man). This is my favourite cinematic phone call, ever, because it showcases that great pinnacle of cinema, angry Philip Seymour Hoffman, who flies off the chain like no one else can.Sandler is decent here, though I fear his performance is often over-hyped by virtue of being so astronomically different from his usual lazy, often painfully unfunny fare. His Barry is a fearful man, with a habit of backing away from difficult situations, even when this potentially problematic issue comes via a phone call. Yes, there are some moments when he devolves into shouty-Adam, but they play more realistically due to the character suffering from a lack of social ability; here he’s believable as someone who could break down into fits of anger, and they haven’t just been thrown in for an attempt at comedy. I love that at certain times he so desperately wants to proceed with the action he’s undertaking that he bursts into short fits of running, despite the fact that he’s heading onboard an airplane, or has no idea where to run to, he just feels that running will make it happen faster.Looking back through my notes, I honestly don’t have much else to say about this film. I don’t know why, but I liked it, I’m sure I’ll watch it again some day (I know I’ll watch the phone call scene, I watch that all the time) and I’d recommend you do the same.
Choose Film 7/10