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Punch-Drunk Love Hits the Spot

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Adam Sandler, an amazing natural talent who graduated from Saturday Night Live’s renowned school of comedy, has become a Hollywood powerhouse. After striking gold with such juvenile hits as Big Daddy, The Wedding Singer, and Happy Gilmore, Sandler is now one of the highest paid actors in the world.

Though he has an impressive comic range, Sandler is usually cast as a simpleton who struggles to function within society’s basic rules – allowing the audience to laugh at an innocent buffoon and his loveable ways. This formula has proven to be a huge commercial success, as with many films that play to the lowest common denominator. However, as with many comedians who find success, Sandler is venturing away from his proven cash cow – probably to prove his worth as an actor. In his newest release, Punch-Drunk Love, he does just that.

The main character, played by Sandler, is a lonely and mentally deranged man named Barry Egan. Barry owns what seems to be a relatively successful business which distributes specialty toilet plungers. However, the movie revolves around Barry’s bizarre obsessions and fascinations.

From collecting frequent flier coupons to obsessing over an abandoned little piano, Sandler really seems to be this character. Moreover, when Barry shows bouts of violent aggression born from a bottled-up temper, Sandler really shines.

Equally responsible for the clarity in this film, is the director, Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights). Throughout the film, we see Barry experiment with phone sex, deal with his nosy and controlling sisters, and display what seems to be an uncharacteristic new propensity to dress up. Intertwined in this conglomeration of bizarre behaviors, is a nice little love story, along with a slew of unique transitions and irrelevant circumstances – all masterfully combined into a disturbing, yet highly palatable, story.

In a (David) Lynch-like melding of twisted circumstances, Anderson leads us through this sad and delusional life of Benny. Yet, in the end, it all makes sense. Watching this pitiful soul was a stressful experience. In addition, at times it was fun, sad; and in the end, somewhat satisfying.

This amazing piece of art was probably not meant for Sandler’s regular fan base. Many people will probably leave the theater wondering what just happened. Nevertheless, this viewer just elevated Adam Sandler to another level. This intriguing movie is not without flaws – but for anyone who appreciates more creative and artistic type of movies, this one is a winner. Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson will just nod in appreciation with an “I told you so” smirk.

Thanks to the popularity of the other Adam Sandler, a large number of people will inadvertently see a decent movie. That’s a good thing.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This movie would be a great addition to any DVD collection. Although it is currently unavailable in DVD/Video, many other great films are at Amazon.com.

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About Dean Bartkiw

  • http://www.flyovercountry.blogspot.com Chris Cotner

    I can’t wait to see this, but don’t dismiss the other Adam Sandler films b/c they seem juvenile, well, ok, they are, but it takes a certain amount of talent and smarts to pull off a Billy Madison (the best of the dumb films) or a Happy Gilmore.