I never heard of this movie before Saturday. It was a lovely day and we wandered around garage sales. At an upscale McMansion in a funky artsy neighborhood I found the 2 disc special edition of Punch-Drunk Love. I saw Adam Sandler on the cover and I usually enjoy his very predictable silly performances so I upped two bucks and took it home.
Wow. (does a double-take) Wow, again.
Surreal does not begin to describe this romantic comedy. Well, I think it's a comedy. It has to be a comedy because of the incredibly ridiculous things that happen.
Well the box says it is a romantic comedy. It has Adam Sandler in it after all. I learned that he really can act.
Visually this movie is well thought out and artful in the extreme. It is apparent that the director has studied his Hitchcock as well as color field painting theory. There are scene changes that occur through a kaleidoscope of images that remind me of Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler paintings. The impact is almost hypnotic. There are scenes with a succession of long corridors that seem to expand and contract and deliver a feeling not unlike Hitchcock's "Vertigo."
It is a visual feast.
The story is about a very awkward man, Mr. Barry Egan. He's a terribly under-confident entrepreneur. He makes "fungers" which are novelty plungers with decorated handles and knobs on the end. He also has seven sisters that bully him around. One of them wants to set him up with a woman that she works with. The woman (Emma Watson) is equally strange in her own way. She is beautiful and composed but says things that show her affection in most horrifying ways.
Barry is awkward, he's geeky. He's got an interesting view of the universe. He's discovered that by buying "Healthy Choice" products that he can get an almost unlimited number of airline miles. He buys pudding by the cartload.
As he's cutting out one of his coupons for miles he sees a phone sex ad. Being a terribly lonely fellow he calls the number which leads to a number of adverse adventures. "Georgia" on the other end of the phone sex line attempts to blackmail him. At this point the movie takes on elements of The Big Lebowski. There are strange fringe elements of people that are violent and ridiculous.
Barry is known for busting out windows and breaking up restaurant bathrooms when he is enraged. His sisters keep telling the story of how he attacked the window with a hammer as a boy when they kept calling him "Gay Boy." The "Mattress Man" (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) behind the phone sex line scam doesn't know what he is up against. The showdown between Barry and Mattress Man is one of the most intensely understated dramatically tense scenes I've ever witnessed. It will make you hold your breath.
Does it work out in the end? Well it IS a romantic comedy according to the box. You'll have to watch. Please pardon me if I don't spoiler more!
My head is still spinning. I'm probably going to have to watch this about fifteen times to get everything. Is it worth watching again? Yes and again and again.
Talk about a big bang for my two bucks. It's amazing.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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