What does the title tell you about the film? Absolutely. Nothing.
Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic comedy drama hybrid (make of that what you will) about a toilet salesman (Adam Sandler) and his easy romance with an English woman as well as his victimisation in a phone-sex scam.
There Will Be Blood‘s brilliance told me that Paul Thomas Anderson is a great director and that I should check out more of his work. When I heard that he had done a light romantic comedy with Adam Sandler achieving more than he’s known for, I was thrilled! Then I heard it was rated one of the most underrated films ever and I was even more thrilled! Then I saw it. And I was much less thrilled.
I will say that Punch-Drunk Love has some nice looking scenes and some beautiful cinematography at times and some very smooth directing throughout. But that’s pretty much all that I can give this film props for.
The main problem I have with Punch-Drunk Love is it’s story or to be more precise… stories*. Punch-Drunk Love follows 3 different simple stories (which is common in movies) yet somehow manages to make them all undeveloped and uninteresting. The A-Story (the love story) receives zero conflict whatsoever. The two characters go on a date and then BAM they’re in love. The B-Story (the phone-sex scandal) could’ve been so much more. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character was on screen for 3 minutes max and his character had one trait; YELLING. And the C-Story (the pudding… thing) isn’t even a story. But when it starts… that’s it. It just starts and then disappears until the end.
I will give Punch-Drunk Love a gold medal however for giving Adam Sandler a character he can really act with. Adam Sandler has proved that he can go broader with emotion than his career has shown. And Philip Seymour Hoffman (as small and ill-written his character may be) does portray the constantly yelling criminal well. I guess that’s a compliment?
I was brought to believe that Punch-Drunk Love was this underrated masterpiece of filmmaking with magnificent performances and brilliant directing. But now I can say with safety (in my mind) that the audiences that skipped this film weren’t missing out on much.
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