Punch-Drunk Love

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Jenn and I watched Punch-Drunk Love via On-Demand last night.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t pay for that one.

Adam Sandler plays this guy Barry who is sort of antisocial… but sort of not. Really, I couldn’t tell what was wrong with him. He had these random fits of rage, sometimes he was well adjusted and sometimes not… I dunno. Anyway, Barry calls this phone sex line and winds up being the victim of this ridiculous extortion scam. While he’s dealing with that, he meets this girl named Lena (played by Emily Watson) with whom he falls in love.

Sounds okay, right? Except for the fact that there are these weird non-sequiturs throughout the whole thing. For example, at the beginning Barry’s standing outside his business, drinking coffee, watching traffic. Out of nowhere, this SUV flips over onto its roof and slides down the street at the same time this taxi cab/van drives up and drops off a harmonium on the sidewalk.

Normally I’d be cool with this - an obvious, but potentially flawed metaphor for love: bang! something hits you and you end up with a little harmony. The thing is, this is actually happening in the movie; it’s not something in Barry’s mind. And he ignores it! All of these things happen, and we’re supposed to accept there’s basically no big deal.

Not only that, but there are these weird interstitials strewn throughout the movie with odd colors and lights on the screen and music playing… I have no idea what that was all about.

“No, it’s surrealism!” I hear you screaming. Maybe it’s me. It wasn’t consistently surreal, so I can’t give ‘em credit for the one-off attempt. I have to chalk it up as straight weirdness.

Maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe I’m too “thick” for this kind of movie. I’d like to think it’s more because the movie missed its mark, but this is the avant-garde crap that critics seem to faun over. I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve seen where the end is something like “this is the film to see!” or “a fresh breath from the norm!” Ugh. I’m all about art in films, but when the one overshadows the other, you lose me.

Pass on this one. Or see it when you’re smoking crack, because then the flashing lights and colors with the music might seem cool. It wasn’t for me, though.