catapult magazine

catapult magazine


punch-drunk love


Oct 28 2002
02:55 pm

We saw it!!!! Ah…Adam Sandler with issues. And sisters. And pudding. How lovely. It’s such a treat to sit in the theater and feel as though you’re watching something worthwhile. Just don’t ask me to explain WHY it was worthwhile, because I don’t know. And I don’t want to know—that’s the beauty of it.

I don’t know. I don’t know.

Did anyone else see it? What did you think? (ahem…TRCDKK?)


Oct 30 2002
09:51 am

I saw it. I loved it. Adam Sandler’s performance amazed me—a statement I thought I’d never hear myself saying in my lifetime.

It took me a while to get into his character, but I started to understand him and feel what he was feeling. Seeing his character, this believable, beautiful, odd man move through stressful, overbearing circumstances and a dreamlike romance was definately worth seeing. Like you, kristinmarie, I can’t really explain why. The ending left me feeling sort of happy, but it could understandibly leave others feeling differently.

I think director P.T. Anderson sees hope blossoming from within and throughout messy, difficult circumstances. At least, that’s where he leads me; he never actually spells out any such conclusion.

Guilt, anxiety, love, empowerment and unwanted, blazing inner frustration; P.T. Anderson tapped into my wells of such feelings, and I shared it all with a character Adam Sandler brings to life. Amazing. There’s one particular scene that struck me, where Sandler gazes at someone affectionately but at the same time looks nearly braindead, and I gazed back utterly spellbound. It’s a lot to say for the guy who had until then most enchanted me by tucking a newspapaer into his collar at the Weekend Update desk, flailing his arms and saying “I’m a crazy newspaper-face man! Isn’t that craaaaaaaaaaazay?”

Also of note was the movie’s use of sound. I’ve never before noticed and appreciated the value of subtle, well-done sound design and the gravity it can bring to a film.

I don’t know if I really said anything at all that I intended to convey about the movie. It’s hard to explain; it’s an odd one. Odd, but worthwhile.


Oct 31 2002
12:06 pm

Several reviews of this film complained that, while Anderson’s work is always exhilarating to watch, the plot did not hold together. Things weren’t explained, and many scenes didn’t really make sense.

This is true, and I wonder why this is a critique. Did it bother you that a car randomly flew across the street? Did you really WANT an explanation for the mysterious piano? I noticed that Sandler, barraged throughout by questions from his sisters, (why are you still wearing that? what’s all the pudding for? why are you so weird? is something wrong? do you remember when you threw that hammer through the window?) had only one answer: “I don’t know.” In fact, those three words HAD to make up at least half of his dialogue. No one in the film really seemed to want a real answer from him, and I as an onlooker didn’t need one either. The film seemed to be more show than tell, a glimpse into the strange life of a strange man.


Oct 31 2002
01:44 pm

Kristin, if you don’t want the piano explained please don’t read this :) The piano symbolizes love. It shows up out of the blue, just like Emily Watson. He brings the piano to her flat to show his love and commitment. The fact that he doesn’t know how to play it or what to do with it is analagous to his inexperience and hesitation in the realm of love. But one gets the sense at the end of the movie that he will learn how to play it. Am I over-intellectualizing?

The other thing I find fascinating is the theme of a socially anxious, relatively unattractive man being “saved” by a well-adjusted, beautiful woman. I’m sure there are other movies out there with this kind of story but the only one I can think of right now is Buffalo 66. Can anyone else think of films that fit this modern fairy-tale formula?


Nov 01 2002
07:17 am


I don’t think you’re overintellectualizing. Thanks for opening that up to me! I thought Punch Drunk Love was a wonderfully honest, interesting, and poetic film. It’s so simple and good. Anderson explores love in all its weird and beautiful and unexplainable glory.

The last few minutes of Buffalo ‘66 (when he calls his friend from the bar) also gets at this. I can’t think of any other films that deal with romantic love in quite this way…


Nov 01 2002
07:42 am

oh….love. cool.

It’s so great when movies actually have depth—when the audience actually has to do a bit of work. I enjoyed this film on its (albeit somewhat perplexing) surface level. And, now that I know about the love-piano, I enjoy it even more. Thanks, Dan.

As for beautiful woman/ugly man stories: Shrek, sort of. Except the woman doesn’t really turn out to be beautiful either. (Just on the inside. Awww.) Beauty and the Beast? Except he turns out to be beautiful in the end. (That’s the true reward: Who cares that they love each other—he’s not ugly!!! Pheww!) How about all Woody Allen movies ever?

Switching it around, I can’t think of even one movie in which a socially anxious, unattractive female is rescued by a beautiful man. Can you? The female always turns out to be a “diamond in the rough”—a princess hidden under bad hair and baggy clothes or something. Punch-drunk love is definitely a different sort of fairy-tale, as Dan mentioned, in that it ends with no resolution to Sandler’s problems. We know that he is still going to make bad decisions, act strangely, cry too much, and break things. But it doesn’t really matter.


Nov 04 2002
04:09 pm

Yah, very unique sound design eh. I wonder what the process was for the sound scoring. Usually it ends up being the last thing to put into the film but I would guess they were working on it during production.

Interesting theory about the love/piano. Or harmonium (is that what it was)? I liked its sonic progression from farting to melodiousnessness.


Nov 05 2002
06:39 am

“American Gigolo” might be one good example of a man saving (or trying to save) other women. Then we could add Taxi Driver and Hardcore. And the upcoming “Maid in Manhattan” with Jennifer Lopez, wink wink.

I agree about the role of the little piano in “Punch-Drunk” and would add the blending of stars and colors in those psychedelic sections as foreshadowings of Barry’s blending as blue with the girl’s pink and red. We may even get really brainy and see PT Anderson’s mixing of Sandler’s piano-playing with the film’s soundtrack as a union of his character with the film itself, and ultimately with the audience who adores him so much.

As far as criticisms of the film, I think if critics are going to blame the girl for loving Sandler’s character unconditionally then they’d better blame us as an audience for loving him so much too. But if they blame me for loving Barry, I’ll go to their place of business and smash their face in with a tire iron.


Nov 06 2002
04:13 pm

Well there’s little left to talk about in my upcoming review. Thanks a lot, everybody.
Actually, it’s not done because it’s getting huge and complicated. Hopefully the administrators will be gracious enough to put in in a few days late.
Glad you brought up Schrader and Scorsese because i’m tying in that generation and movies like those with Anderson. I’ve always thought Gigilo/Hardcore/Taxi Driver were destroying the male rescue fantasy though.
I have to go apply black goo to isulated glass now.


Nov 10 2002
07:57 am

I hope I didn’t kill the conversation…. Sorry.