Okay--half the critics are in love with this one, the other half think it's just "weird for weird's sake." And damned if they don't all have a point.
Synopsis: deceptively simple. Adam Sandler has a hard time finding a meaningful relationship. A call to a phone sex line spells non-stop disaster, but a friend introduced to him by one of his seven sisters just may be "the one" after all.
Now, most of us loved BOOGIE NIGHTS, and I'm an ardent defender of MAGNOLIA (yes, I can even explain the ending to my satisfaction). As for Adam Sandler movies? Those critically despised Adam Sandler movies? Well, I never sat through most of them, so I've never felt drowned in his stuff. I laughed through about half of HAPPY GILMORE (through the Bob Barker scene), and then I got tired of it--and I had no real interest in many of the others. This one I saw because of the buzz and because it was P.T. Anderson.
Anderson, of course, loved the other Sandler movies, and he happily confesses to enjoying watching them while stoned. And PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, make no mistake, looks exactly like a film made by someone who gets stoned and watches Adam Sandler movies. Which is not to automatically put it down. In all fairness, Sandler does a hell of a job. He deserves the critical raves, and Anderson deserves plenty of credit for casting him in a role that finally lets the darkness and anger beneath his surface finally cut loose--thus making it a lot more believable when he makes awkward attempts at being sympathetic. Yes, we can get away with both "What's all that pudding for?" and "Somebody smashed up the bathroom. Did you do it?"
On the other hand, much of the movie certainly does seem to be weird just for "weird's" sake. There's a point where I thought I could probably take a twenty-minute bathroom break and not miss a damn thing--and I was very nearly right! People have compared Anderson to Robert Altman many a time, and he repays the compliment by bringing one of Shelley Duvall's songs from Altman's POPEYE onto the soundtrack... and letting it go on for-freakin-ever! There's also a very subtle injoke--a nod to Jerry Seinfeld that will only make sense to those familiar to the "Letters From a Nut" book series.
Anderson's cast of regulars is slowly diminishing. Philip Seymour Hoffman is there, and he brought Emily Watson with him from RED DRAGON, and Luis Guzman is there, as well--but no John C. Reilly this time, and no porn stars (that I recognized), either.
I don't know--I just don't know. Maybe I'm failing to comprehend a masterpiece, or maybe there are just some truly terrific bits in a largely self-indulgent exercise. I'll say this much--this should be seen by anyone who enjoys talking about movies! Your move.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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