Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
March 4, 2019 12:56 PM - Subscribe

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzmán, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Sandler stars as an entrepreneur with severe social anxiety who is set up on a date with his sister's co-worker. The two immediately fall in love with each other but he is forced to defend his new love interest and himself from thugs attempting to steal his identity and extort him.

Carla Meyer:"Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magnolia," "Boogie Nights") is a filmmaker of strong allegiances. He carries over actors from picture to picture, and he was so taken by Aimee Mann 's songs that he built "Magnolia" around them.
Anderson's also clearly in love with Adam Sandler's man-child persona, and that affection colors everything about "Punch-Drunk Love," a sweet-natured, meticulously observed love story. Like every Anderson film, "Punch-Drunk" is both transcendent and indulgent, with the indulgent part asking us to love Sandler no matter what."

Peter Travers: "Adam Sandler will shock a lot of people with the ferocity and feeling of his performance in Punch-Drunk Love, especially those snobs who dismiss Sandler’s movies as moronic drool without actually seeing any of them. . . Sandler, 36, and Anderson, 32, are parallel lines that meet triumphantly in a mesmerizer that stays true to both of their anarchic spirits. The film runs a scant eighty-nine minutes (Magnolia tipped three hours), but there’s no skimping on Anderson’s hallmarks: emotion, style and startling innovation."

Roger Ebert: "There is a new Adam Sandler on view in "Punch-Drunk Love"--angry, sad, desperate. In voice and mannerisms he is the same childlike, love-starved Adam Sandler we've seen in a series of dim comedies, but this film, by seeing him in a new light, encourages us to look again at those films. Given a director and a screenplay that sees through the Sandler persona, that understands it as the disguise of a suffering outsider, Sandler reveals depths and tones we may have suspected but couldn't bring into focus."

As a bonus, here's the real story of the pudding/miles guy! It's a true story (well the miles part at very least)
posted by Carillon (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have, broadly speaking, loathed Adam Sandler movies both before and since this one, but I loved this movie immediately and completely. Anderson has a knack for building roles around the perceived deficiencies of actors (this, and the Tom Cruise role in Magnolia, come immediately to mind and may, I think, be productively compared.)
posted by gauche at 1:11 PM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

I enjoyed Sandler's movies on and off but Grown Ups was the last straw.

With that said, this movie. I love "I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine." but the thing I could watch one million times is when he gets off the plane and he's still holding the phone handset.
posted by ftm at 4:09 PM on March 4, 2019

underrated masterpiece by our greatest living director. i love the weird sort of triple spin kick sandler does to break the sliding glass doors in his sister's house.
posted by JimBennett at 4:10 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is an excellent movie. For some reason, my wife and I latched on to the phrase "that's that, mattress man," and we say it to each other all the time.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:25 AM on March 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

There's a fun theory about this being a Superman origin story. The linked video is about 13 minutes which is long to some so in summary, Sandler's character wears a particular blue suit. Eventually a red tie. His love interest has the initials LL and is in red a lot. The color red guides him to her. She could be his red cape. With her love he is fragile but strong. At times, especially if he is protecting Lina, he has incredible strength. With accumulated miles he can fly. He has a mortal enemy in the Mattress man (Phillip Seymour Hoffman - so wonderfully scary and cruel - completely evil to Sandler who seeks justice and truth). It's a fun way to think about the movie.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:39 AM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

From the Ebert review:

Paul Thomas Anderson has referred to "Punch-Drunk Love" as "an art house Adam Sandler film." It may be the key to all of the Adam Sandler films, and may liberate Sandler for a new direction in his work. He can't go on making those moronic comedies forever, can he? Who would have guessed he had such uncharted depths?

Sadly, it turns out he apparently can.

I love this movie, and I really liked The Wedding Singer. But I can't think of another actor with quite such a skewed ratio of films I like to films I really, really hate.
posted by Naberius at 8:41 AM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I really loved this movie. Jon Brion's score, Anderson's use of colours, Sandler's performance at the time blew me totally the fuck away, he's perfect in the role, and the sense of repression he carries into it was just so *kisses fingers*. That scene in the factory with his sisters bullying him and the increasingly deranged percussion. Gold.

I remember my sheer delight when Emily Watson's character started exhibiting her own eccentricities, hinting at a fire more than equal to his. It was a romantic comedy that let the woman be weird as well. Lovely film.
posted by smoke at 2:22 AM on March 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's been a long time since I saw this, but I remember loving it.

When I think of it, I usually also think of Stranger than Fiction. Another movie starring a comedian whose movies I generally dislike (Will Ferrell), playing a dramatic(ish) role and nailing it.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 6:33 AM on March 6, 2019

Yes! See also The Truman Show.
posted by gauche at 7:11 AM on March 6, 2019

If you haven't seen the Mattress Man commercial, here's the Philip Seymour Hoffman recreation of the original.

A friend made me see this movie, I came into it knowing nothing about it other than it was an Adam Sandler movie so I expected it would be truly awful. What a surprise.

Like smoke says, the score and sound design were pretty amazing. That slowly building music and discordant noise drives the conflict-heavy scenes and emphasizes both Barry's external and internal tensions. There's hints of some kind of paranoia or schizophrenia with the offscreen voices and whispers. Then all the noise gives way in scenes with his harmonium and Lena as he gains some control over his headspace and the ability to be honest and open with the people close to him.

What I think I liked best was the subversion of the romantic comedy trope of everyone winning in the end. Lena wasn't the reward at the end of Barry's quest, she didn't make him perfect. Weird in her own way, she was aware of his flaws through knowing his sister and still chose him. Barry just held it together long enough - presumably 6 to 8 weeks to process his pudding prize - to keep her in his life. It was a modest victory, and more of a beginning than an ending, but it felt honest.
posted by peeedro at 1:34 PM on March 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I remember being blown away by this, but I'm kind of afraid to re-watch it (also: Magnolia) for that reason. Don't want to spoil that experience of wonder and confusion and occasional delight.
posted by emjaybee at 2:26 PM on March 6, 2019

« Older Podcast: My Brother, My Brothe...   |  Supergirl: What's So Funny Abo... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments