In Paul Thomas Anderson’s deeply rich and strange romantic comedy, Adam Sandler removes the quote marks from his famous personality, and he’s utterly winning to watch. As Barry Egan, the loser-geek owner of a Los Angeles novelty-toilet-plunger company, Sandler may or may not be a full-fledged actor, but he has become a tender and arresting presence, like a fusion of Chaplin’s Little Tramp, Woody Allen, and Edward Scissorhands. Barry is brought into the orbit of the adorable, saucer-eyed Lena (Emily Watson), who actually falls for him. At heart, Punch-Drunk Love is a David Lynch film, a cosmic daydream in which Sandler gets sucked into a vortex where the power of love fights the pull of darkness. Yet Watson’s character, a maternal saint, feels underwritten, and the result is quietly sweet, even resonant, without ever being truly moving.

Punch-Drunk Love
  • Movie
  • 97 minutes