DCJ’S Review: Punch-Drunk Love

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Genre: Romantic Comedy (November 2002)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Luis Guzman, Philip Hoffman

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

In a Nutshell: Adam Sandler is Barry Egan, a small-time business owner. Suffering years of emotional abuse at the hands of his seven older sisters, Barry is a very lonely man. When he feels his lowest, he resorts to calling a phone sex operator, only to be targeted for extortion.

Just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, his life is suddenly brightened when he meets Lena (Watson), one of his sister’s coworkers. Now that he has something to prove, the spastic Barry must overcome all odds to win true love.

Description: One word comes to mind when describing “Punch-Drunk Love”: STUPID.

The movie is chock full of nonsense scenes. For instance, Sandler’s character stands in a parking lot and witnesses a car speed down the road and crash.. That’s it. The scene has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. There is also a point where Barry runs out of his office, catches a plane to Utah, and confronts the extortionist, all the while clutching a telephone receiver to his ear. Why?

Sandler is making some desperate cry for attention here. It seems he actively searches for scripts with oddball characters; still, Barry Egan is not quite as offensive and brash as “Little Nicky” and “Happy Gilmore.” The story might have had potential had its execution not lost focus. Anderson seemed to be aiming for “artsy” and “eccentric.” What he hit was “silly” and “mind-numbing.”

Pros: Emily Watson, while far from being a bombshell, carries enough screen presence to keep the film from being a total wash.

Cons: Nonsense scenes. Random garbage. Foul language. Adam Sandler. Convoluted plot.

The Grading Scale:

Screen Talent: B-

Special Effects: C+

Story: D

Overall: D

The Bottom Line: Though not nearly as bad as other Sandler movies, “Punch-Drunk Love” is still a clunker. It just doesn’t work. You’ll be more entertained scrubbing your ceiling, and it’ll be less of a waste of time.