A critically acclaimed Adam Sandler film? I’d never would I have thought I’d see the day. I guess if The Truman Show is one of Jim Carrey’s dramatic stabs, then the star of Big Daddy can give a romantic comedy a try. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia), using a story from the “Strange But True” category, combined with adding a touching tenderness to his characters, wrapped up with Sandler, playing a quiet, soft spoken man prone to fits of blind rage.
Sander is Barry …gan, a novelty toilet plunger salesman with 7 sisters, who don’t hesitate in bullying him at every opportunity. Barry has times where he has periods of anger that cause him to destroy things, such as a sliding glass door at one of his sister’s houses. One morning, while at work, Barry discovers a harmonium that is left abandoned outside of the warehouse where he works. The harmonium becomes a metaphor for Barry’s pursuit to reclaim his life, as he periodically tries to play it through the film. Barry soon meets Lena (Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves) who drops her car off at the mechanic next to Barry’s office, but her intent is to meet him. Barry is attracted to Lena, and his awkwardness around her is cute to see, as if he’s a 13 year old trying to figure out what to do and say. Barry’s conflict in the movie is when he calls a phone sex company. He’s very awkward, and even confused, when talking with the girl on the other line. She decides to extort money from him, and enlists the help of Dean (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote), the owner of the company, and 3 crazed brothers.Through this, Barry is inspired by Lena, and when he finds out about a business trip she has to take to Hawaii, he takes advantage of a loophole in a Healthy Choice Promotional Campaign, which allows him to collect over 1 million frequent flyer miles from pudding purchases. He’s unable to redeem the miles in time, but he goes to meet her anyway.
Anderson does a great job of amplifying the noises heard in Barry’s destructive scenes, and gives them a vivid set of colors to put on film. Barry’s bright blue suit is worn throughout almost the entire film. Ultimately, Lena helps to inspire Barry to straighten out his life, for him and for them. He confronts Dean near the end of the film, saying, “I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine.” Barry and Lena can start their relationship, symbolized by Lena’s saying “here we go.” It’s a nice movie, with the novelty of Sandler aside, and a cute story, filled with a sweeping, innocent score by Jon Brion. Despite the low box office turnout for the film, one can only hope that Anderson is unfazed by the turnout, and will continue to churn out unique and outstanding films.
After a couple of delays and a surprising move, Punch-Drunk Love comes out in a 2 disc Superbit edition. The video is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the transfer is superb, with no real visible edge enhancement or artifacts, and from Sandler’s blue suit to Jeremy Blake’s artwork, the colors really look vibrant on screen, even by Superbit standards. The care in the presentation was worth the wait.
As was the case with the dialogue-driven Adaptation., Punch-Drunk Love also gets the DTS treatment, largely due to the Superbit label. The difference here is that there is much more happening in the soundtrack of the film to give your home theater system a bit of a jog. The score by Jon Brion really adds to the feel of the film, and with the surround speakers bringing it out even more so. If putting this out as a Superbit title was a PTA decision, it’s a pretty good one.
We are talking about a Superbit release here, so it’s expected to be a bit light on extras, but with a second disc’s worth of room, the amount of material is disappointing. Blossoms and Blood is a 12 minute short piece according to the back of the box, but it’s probably better described as a highlight reel for lack of a better phrase. The song by Brion (entitled “Here We Go”) is part of the soundtrack, and it is in 5.1, but it’s basically movie clips with a lot of artwork with them. 12 scopitones feature Blake’s artwork in widescreen, attached to brief clips of the film. Each clip is about 15 seconds, except for a couple, which run into the 1 or 2 minute territory. 2 deleted scenes totaling just under 10 minutes are included, as well as the Mattress Man Commercial, featuring Hoffman in character, apparently doing an audition for Jackass. Blake’s artwork is set to a 2 minute piece of Hawaiian music, and runs as a chapter, no need for other buttons like still galleries on other releases. 3 trailers are included, however they could be better described as a trailer and two teasers, including a French teaser.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best writer/directors in film today. This film is a radical departure from what he’s done before; having Adam Sandler in it didn’t hurt too much. Sandler fans should watch it to experience Anderson’s work, and Anderson fans should watch it to see why this guy makes $20 million a movie. The Superbit label gets a great addition to its library with Punch-Drunk Love.
Special Features List
- “Blossoms and Blood”
- Mattress Man Commercial
- Deleted Scenes