After “Magnolia” earned mixed reactions from critics and movie goers alike, Paul Thomas Anderson (one of my Top 5 favorite filmmakers) commenced development on his next project casting Adam Sandler in his first dramatic role titled, “Punch-Drunk Love.” Released in 2002, (same year The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came out) it received positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. However, it didn’t make a profit at the box office. Adam earned his first Golden Globe nomination for “Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.” The Criterion Collection included Punch-Drunk Love as spine number 843. As a result of proving himself as a serious actor, Mr. Sandler went on to star in other serious dramas including “Spanglish,” “Reign Over Me” “The Meyerowitz Stories” and “Uncut Gems.” Adam will collaborate with the Safdie Brothers in an upcoming film. As of February 2023, the title has yet to be announced.
Today’s review contains no SPOILERS. Feel free to check out my non-spoiler article.
Lovely & Hideous Aspects
Lovely: Adam Sandler did an excellent job for his performance as Barry Egan. He earns Bonus Points for pulling all that emotional weight. Roger Ebert compared his performance to Dennis Hopper.
Other Cast Members such as Emily Watson, Luis Guzman and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman all did a great job for their respective performances.
Paul Thomas Anderson did an excellent job directing the film. He also wrote the script making sure everything’s organized.
Fun Fact: PTA is a huge fan of Adam. He stated an SNL sketch, “The Denise Show” encouraged him to make 90-minute romantic comedy-drama with Adam in the lead.
Cinematography never succumbs to technical issues.
Chemistry between Barry & Lena serves as the main highlight.
Jon Brion (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, ParaNorman, Lady Bird) orchestrated an unforgettable soundtrack. I’m shocked he never got nominated for an Oscar for “Best Original Score.”
“He Needs Me” is played during the End Credits. It’s a beautiful song.
A harmonium plays a pivotal role.
The Story’s basically a realistic take of an Adam Sandler movie results in consequences.
Throughout the film, Barry wears a blue suit. Symbolizes he’s been emotionally abused by his sisters and has low self-esteem.
Character Development involving Barry. As the film progresses, he gains confidence to hang out with his love interest.
Barry goes on a vacation to Hawaii to be with Lena. This won’t be the last time Adam goes to Hawaii. Does “50 First Dates” ring any bells?
Primary Themes are Loneliness, Low Self-Esteem, Confidence & Torment. Each one’s handled carefully.
Adam’s good friend Robert Smigel makes a brief appearance as Barry’s brother-in-law.
Hideous: I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving the PTA and the crew and Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible.
Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX
A timeless classic, Punch-Drunk Love is arguably Adam Sandler’s best film. It’s a shame he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. Someday, I hope Christopher Nolan casts Mr. Sandler in a future film. Maybe see Adam portray Batman villain Hugo Strange in either James Gunn’s upcoming DC Universe or Robert Pattinson’s Batman series set outside Mr. Gunn’s universe. If you haven’t seen Punch-Drunk Love, I strongly recommend buying a DVD/Blu-Ray copy from The Criterion Collection.