By Owen Gleiberman
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:08 AM EDT

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
  • R
  • 97 minutes
  • Paul Thomas Anderson