Punch Drunk

published

Carina and I watched Punch-Drunk Love the other night. We both quite enjoyed P.T. Anderson’s other works, so we were fairly optimistic about this one. This optimism is largely responsible for me watching the show at all, because I generally don’t like Adam Sandler. Although the film was considerably slower than I would’ve liked, it wasn’t totally unenjoyable. It was refreshing to see Sandler in a role other than a belligerent idiot.

I was about ready to give up during the first quarter of the film, mostly due to the abuse heaped onto Sandler’s character by his seven sisters. I find that sort of thing extremely tiresome, and not at all what I want to watch when I sit down to be entertained. Abusing people for purported “comic relief” just doesn’t do anything for me. It was for precisely this that I despised Meet the Parents.

But it wasn’t just the abuse, it was also the inability of Barry, the protagonist, to tell the truth about what was happening. I’m not intimately familiar with many psychological conditions, so maybe Barry’s behaviour was strictly consistent with the mental blocks from which he suffered, but it struck me as maddening, and is again not the kind of thing I’m interested in watching. I recognize that this was perhaps intentional, as the cathartic release when Barry finally fessed up was potent. It boggles my mind that functional adults can act that way, at all, though.

And now that I get to actually thinking about it, I begin to consider other nuance. The birthday party scene struck me as absurd, originally: surely the sisters would have learned by now that Barry was a volatile person, supremely susceptible to their teasing. If so, there’s no explanation for their abuse other than willful malice, to goad Barry into exploding. I suppose it’s possible that they’re also dysfunctional and blithely unaware of the effect they have. How tiresome.

I think Carina liked the movie a lot more. But what does she know? She didn’t like The Ice Pirates nearly as much as I did, making snide remarks about Robert Urich through the whole thing…


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