A Sandler Comedy with a Difference
"Punch-Drunk Love" is not a bad movie, it is offbeat, quirky and unsurprisingly also stylish, well it is a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, but I didn't like it. I wouldn't say that I hated it because there were moments that made me laugh, I enjoyed Anderson styling and enjoyed Adam Sandler playing what for all sense and purpose is one of his usual characters but a less daft one. But I couldn't connect with the storyline and that made the quirkiness of some of it annoying and in the end left me cold and frankly bemused by it all.
Barry Egan (Adam Sandler - Little Nicky) is socially inept, he may have his own business but he doesn't know how to deal with day to day life which maybe down to the 7 sisters who still bully him. But life for Barry is about to change when a Harmonium is dumped on the pavement near his office, he meets Lena (Emily Watson - The Memory Keeper's Daughter) an English woman, has trouble with a phone sex operative and realises that there is a flaw in a promotion for air miles when you buy a Healthy Choice pudding.
That synopsis doesn't make sense but is how "Punch-Drunk Love" ended up coming across to me because this is an offbeat movie, a strange romantic comedy which doesn't do things conventionally, heck there's not even any opening credits. And that is a problem for me because I was unable to really connect or understand the story which focuses on Barry and his struggle with daily life as his mind works differently to others. Maybe that was the point, a look at the life of a man who doesn't see the world in the same way as everyone else and so has had to put up with years of being put down and suddenly finds himself with a reason, a woman to make a stand for himself. I really don't know because it was a little too strange for me and by the number of positive reviews it seems that if you did connect with it then it was something special.
But whilst I couldn't connect with Anderson's storyline and some of his offbeat humour I still think he has created a movie which in many ways is beautiful. The use of long shots and a hand held camera gives it a very different feel and the use of colours makes it eye catching. But then so are some of those off beat moments and whilst I still have no idea what a car crash early on in the movie was all about it certainly grabbed my attention. Basically it is different, very experimental and the sort of thing which I know some people hate because it is too far from their comfort zone.
And then there is Adam Sandler who delivers what for me and for many is a very entertaining performance as Barry Egan yet the irony is that Barry is not really that different to a typical Sandler character, he still has anger issues and does things in a quirky manner. In fact the only difference is that Barry isn't an intentionally daft or comical character, more of a misfit struggling with life and so it allows Sandler to just play him as a normal guy rather than trying to be funny. What is a shame is the talented and lovely Emily Watson doesn't have more to do as Lena because her few scenes are the ones which for me made the most sense, well hers and a terrific cameo from Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dean Trumbell.
What this all boils down to is that "Punch-Drunk Love" is offbeat and definitely not everyone's cup of tea because it is very different. But even if you struggle to connect with the strange story it is still a good movie with some terrific styling thanks to Paul Thomas Anderson.