Friday, January 26, 2018

Movie Review: Punch-Drunk Love

One of Adam Sandler's best movies brings out a new simpler style for Paul Thomas Anderson. Sandler plays Barry Egan, a toilet plunger salesman who has some quirky habits. One morning, Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) stops by to get her car fixed and asked Barry to watch it for her. Barry picks up a harmonium from the side of the road after this interaction and keeps it in his office slowly repairing it. Barry also discovers a loophole in a deal for Healthy Choice products that if he buys a certain product, namely pudding because it is the cheapest, he will get frequent flyer miles for a discount price. 

As he works to sell plungers with the help of Lance (Luis Guzm├ín), his many sisters call. He has a total of seven and they are planning a party that they want Barry to attend. One sister, Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub) stops by his office to tell him to come to the party and mentions that he wants to set him up with a date. Barry makes a lame excuse but still attends the party.His sisters relentlessly make fun of him and he developed an anger problem at a young age. He smashes all the windows in his sister's house after they make fun of him. He confesses to one of his sister's husband that he has mental problems and continues to cry. Unfortunately the husband is a dentist, not a therapist. 

Lonely, Barry decides to call a sex hotline despite his worries that his information won't be private. He talks to a woman that night but she calls him up the next morning and asks him for money eventually threatening him when he refuses. The calls follow him to work as Lena shows up with his sister Elizabeth. It turns out that Lena was Elizabeth's friend who she wanted to set up with Barry. Their conversation is awkward and a disaster happens in the workshop. Lena still returns after thinking about it and asks Barry out on a date while Lance and others watch. On their date, Lena mentions an embarrassing story about Barry and so Barry goes into the bathroom and trashes it. The restaurant manager kicks them out. 

In Utah, Dean Trumbell (Philip Seymour Hoffman) learns of this man who refuses to pay one of his phone sex workers. He hires a group of brothers to drive to Los Angeles and threaten Barry. Despite the bathroom incident, the date with Lena goes well for Barry but she is planning on leaving for Hawaii. Barry is assaulted by the three brothers who demand money from him. He pays them off but then decides to go to Hawaii. He racks up a bunch of frequent flyer miles from the pudding but is distressed when he finds out that he can't use them. He goes to Hawaii anyways threatening his sister over the phone when he gets there to figure out where Lena is staying. He meets up with her and they have a romantic evening and morning together. 

However, when they return home, the brothers smash into Barry's car injuring Lena. Barry leaves her at the hospital and flies to Utah to confront Dean. He manages to make him give up the pursuit of money and returns. Lena is unhappy that Barry left him but he explains everything and they kiss and make up. Punch-Drunk Love was different than anything Paul Thomas Anderson had done before and Adam Sandler for that matter. The romance is charming with great support from Emily Watson. The film isn't as astonishing as some of his other films but Paul Thomas Anderson is still an entertaining writer and director to watch. 

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