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Punch-Drunk Love
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy, drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: artsy-fartsy, darkly-comic, lovey
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Barry Egan has kind of a pathetic life. He's a partner in a small business that sells bathroom novelty supplies — think dice-topped toilet plungers aimed at the casino industry, for example—  and spends each day working out of a cavernous warehouse, monotonously making phone calls, drinking coffee, making sure products ship out properly. His personal life's not much better: he has no friends, no girlfriend, no one save his seven sisters really, all of whom are constantly badgering him and bossing him around, basically inflicting emotional abuse upon him under the guise of normal sisterly teasing. For the most part, Barry quietly, blandly goes through the motions of life, except on the occasions when all that pent-up emotion that comes from having no human connections and being walked all over like a doormat explodes from seemingly out of nowhere, at which point Barry yells and smashes everything in sight. The highlights of his life are snagging a junky old harmonium that gets inexplicably dumped off the back of a moving truck in front of his warehouse one morning, and discovering a loophole in a food product promotion that will win him a trip to Hawaii, if he can only amass enough fat-free pudding. But on the same day he makes these exciting discoveries, something unexpected and wonderful walks into his life, in the form of a pretty blonde Englishwoman named Lena who, miracle of miracles, genuinely seems to like Barry.

Review My boy likes David Lynch, Jeunet and Caro and pretty much any movie starring Adam Sandler. His mysterious and unaccountable weakness for the not-exactly high-brow actor/comedian means that I have seen an embarrassingly large proportion of the Adam Sandler oeuvre thus far, which is not insubstantial, a particularly amazing fact when you notice that just about every movie features Sandler as the exact same character going through the exact same plot. The weird thing is, despite the fact that I would sooner gouge my eye out with a spoon than have to endure a repeat viewing of Little Nicky, I've always kind of liked Adam Sandler. His movies might be completely inane, but there's something interesting about the way his (one) character is such a weird, unsettling blend of sweet and psycho. What's great about Punch-Drunk Love is that it makes brilliant use of Sandler's particular, peculiar talent for playing a (basically) nice oddball of a guy who's also constantly on the verge of going completely nuts, and quite possibly homicidal. Sandler's Barry Egan isn't a huge departure from his usual moronic comedy character, but there's one big difference: Barry Egan has real depth. The result is something a little disturbing, a lot weird, not a small amount lovely, and totally riveting to watch. Paul Thomas Anderson's use of sound in the movie works beautifully to throw the viewer into Barry's world long silences are occasionally punctuated by sudden sharp, jarring blares and clatters that just as quickly as they break the peace, disappear again, returning us to the placid sonic terrain. And the look of the movie is a glorious Technicolor candy-hued dream, so outrageously, heart-swellingly romantic that it makes you feel Barry and Lena falling in love, even though the relationship defies all logic (sadly, it's hard to completely ignore that it makes no sense). "Quirky" doesn't begin to do justice to how unlike Punch-Drunk Love is from any other love story you've ever seen before: totally bizarre and utterly unpredictable, it's just plain neat to watch the film alternately lurch and glide its way to a conclusion. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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