Punch-Drunk Love [2002]

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Andrews, Don McManus
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 95 minutes

Adam Sandler takes a shot at critical respectability with Punch-Drunk Love, a movie by director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia). Sandler plays Barry Egan, a lonely small businessman who calls a phone sex line one night, only to find himself the victim of an extortion scheme the next day--the very same day on which he goes out on a date with the woman who may be the love of his life (the utterly delightful Emily Watson). Barry is a lot like Sandler's popular comic characters--socially maladept, prone to violence, always on the brink of embarrassment--but here Sandler plays it real; the result is both off-putting and sympathetic. Anderson's writing skills, unfortunately, are not as strong as his visual sense. Punch-Drunk Love has many strengths (including great supporting actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzmán), but ultimately fizzles out. --Bret Fetzer

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