Magazine article Newsweek

Call Him Unhappy Gilmore: Adam Sandler Meets the Director of 'Boogie Nights.' the Result Is One Very Strange Romantic Comedy

Magazine article Newsweek

Call Him Unhappy Gilmore: Adam Sandler Meets the Director of 'Boogie Nights.' the Result Is One Very Strange Romantic Comedy

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ansen

Think of "Punch-Drunk Love" as a palate cleanser in Paul Thomas Anderson's extraordinary career. After his two long, high-calorie epics of the San Fernando Valley--"Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia"--this is sorbet. Who would have guessed that he'd follow those anguished meditations with a 90-minute Adam Sandler romantic comedy? But before you get too comfortable with that notion, let it be said that Anderson, one of the most exciting American filmmakers of his generation, is incapable of making a romantic comedy that resembles any other. "Punch-Drunk Love" is one dark, strange-tasting sorbet, its sweetness shot through with startling, unexpected flavors. It's a romantic comedy on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Indeed, for the first mysterious, unsettling and absolutely mesmerizing 30 minutes, there's no way of predicting where this tale may be heading, or what genre it belongs to. Sandler, dressed in a bright blue jacket and tie, plays Barry Egan, a fearful, volatile, socially maladroit salesman of novelty plumbing items (his dice-and-money toilet plunger sells big in Vegas). A borderline agoraphobe who's picked on by his seven sisters, he lives alone in a sterile Valley apartment, is prone to sudden violent outbursts of rage and is obsessed with his scheme to acquire 1.5 million frequent-flier miles by buying Healthy Choice pudding. Never mind that he has never been on an airplane and has no intention to travel. That is, until he meets his sister's adorable friend Lena (a luminous Emily Watson), who inspires the love-struck Barry to follow her on a business trip to Honolulu. …

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