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Punch-Drunk Love

theatrical poster
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Lupi
Joanne Sellar
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Adam Sandler
Emily Watson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Luis Guzmán
Mary Lynn Rajskub
Music by Jon Brion
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Editing by Leslie Jones
Studio Revolution Studios
New Line Cinema
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) November 1, 2002
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $24,665,649 (worldwide)

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) is an American romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. Anderson regulars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzmán appear.

Sandler won positive reviews for his role in his first major departure from the broader comedies that had made him a star. Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times that "Sandler, liberated from the constraints of formula, reveals unexpected depths as an actor. Watching this film, you can imagine him in Dennis Hopper roles. He has darkness, obsession and power."[1] He won Best Actor at the Gijón International Film Festival and received a Golden Globe nomination.

The film was produced by Revolution Studios and New Line Cinema, and was distributed by Columbia Pictures; it features the video artwork of Jeremy Blake in the form of visual interludes.



Barry Egan (Sandler) owns a company that markets themed toilet plungers ("fungers") and other novelty items. He has seven overbearing sisters who ridicule him regularly, and leads a very lonely life punctuated by fits of rage. In the span of one morning, he witnesses a bizarre car accident, picks up an abandoned harmonium from the street, and encounters Lena Leonard (Watson), who orchestrated the meeting after seeing him in a family picture belonging to his sister Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub), a co-worker of Lena's.

Barry calls a phone sex hotline for conversation, but the operator attempts to extort money and sends her four henchmen, who are brothers, to collect. This complicates his budding relationship with Lena, as well as his plan to exploit a loophole in a Healthy Choice promotion and amass a million frequent flyer miles by buying large quantities of pudding (based on the true story of David Phillips). After Lena leaves for Hawaii on a business trip, Barry decides to follow her. He arrives and calls one of his manipulative sisters to learn where Lena is staying. At first, Barry explains that he is in Hawaii on a business trip by coincidence, but he soon admits that he came to pursue a romantic relationship.

After they return home, the four brothers ram their car into Barry's, leaving Lena mildly injured. An outraged Barry is attacked by the brothers, one of whom wields a tire iron. With surprising skill, he fights them off despite being outnumbered. He later leaves Lena at the hospital and tries to end the harassment by calling the phone-sex line and speaking to the "supervisor", who turns out to be Dean Trumbell (Hoffman), owner of a mattress store. Barry drives to Provo, Utah to confront him in person.

Barry tells Lena his story and begs her for forgiveness, pledging to use his frequent-flier miles to accompany her on all future trips. She readily agrees, and they embrace happily. The final shot of the movie shows Lena approaching Barry in his office while he plays the harmonium. She puts her arms around him and says, "So, here we go."


  • Barry Egan - A repressed, borderline mentally ill small time businessman, whose passive demeanour hides a rageful personality that can sometimes explode in bursts of violence. He has been tormented by his seven sisters for much of his life, and this may be the cause of his problems. He has a somewhat perverse way of expressing affection.
  • Lena Leonard - A mysterious character, she becomes infatuated with Barry after seeing him in a photograph alongside his sisters, one of whom is a work colleague. She falls in love with him despite (or perhaps even because of) his unstable personality. She appears to have her own odd way of expressing affection. Relatively nothing is revealed about her life throughout the film, except that she was an only child and has been married once before.


Paul Thomas Anderson won the award for Best Director at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Despite a positive reception from critics, Punch-Drunk Love was not a financial success in the U.S., where it earned back $17,000,000 of its $25,000,000 budget.[citation needed] Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 79% "fresh" rating.[3] The Internet Movie Database rates it at 7.4/10. The movie came at #33 in the AV Club's "Top 50 films of the '00s".[4]

Score and soundtrack

The score to Punch-Drunk Love was composed by Jon Brion. As with the previous film Magnolia, Brion and director Paul Thomas Anderson collaborated heavily for the production of the film's score. However, rather than scoring the film after rough footage had been shot, Brion created compositions during the filming of Punch-Drunk Love. During the scoring process, Brion would experiment with tones and sounds, carefully making note of what Anderson would respond to. Anderson himself would create vocal tempos he would envision in the score and use them on set, even to the extent of inspiring the pace of Adam Sandler's performance.

The film's score features heavy use of the harmonium, an instrument that Anderson knew he wanted in the film before he had even completed the script. Brion introduced Anderson to this instrument and many scenes between Adam Sandler's character and the instrument were inspired by Brion. For instance, Brion once found a harmonium with a hole in its bellows before going on tour with Aimee Mann. To fix the problem, he covered the hole with duct tape. An identical situation is found in the film.

One particular standout track in the film is a version of "He Needs Me" from the 1980 Robert Altman movie Popeye with vocals by Shelley Duvall. The song, slightly rescored by Brion and Jonathan Karp, cues during Barry's trip to Hawaii to meet Lena. The song comes to a climax as they kiss while a crowd passes them by.


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 film starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. The film is about Barry Egan, a small business owner who leads a very lonely life puncuated by fits of rage. One morning, he witnesses a bizarre car accident and comes into possession of a harmonium when his life suddenly changes.

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.


Barry Egan

  • I didn't do anything. I'm a nice man. I mind my own business. So you tell me that's that before I beat the Hell from you.
  • Lena. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I left you at the hospital. I called a phone-sex line... I called a phone-sex line before I met you, and four blond brothers came after me and they hurt you, and I'm sorry. Then I had to leave again because I wanted to make sure you never got hurt again. And, and I have a lot of puddings, and in six to eight weeks it can be redeemed. So if you could just give me that much time, I think I can get enough mileage to go with you wherever you go if you have to travel for your work. Because I don't ever want to be anywhere without you. So could you just let me redeem the mileage?
  • I didn't ask for a shrink - that must've been somebody else. Also, that pudding isn't mine. Also, I'm wearing this suit today because I had a very important meeting this morning and I don't have a crying problem.
  • I have so much strength inside of me. You have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine. I would say "That's that", Mattress Man.


  • Dean Trumbell: Fuck you. You're a pervert. Think you can be a pervert and not pay for it?
  • Lena: So, here we go.


Barry: I'm looking at your advertisement for the airline promotion and giveaway.
Operator Carter: Ah, this is our frequent flyer plan.
Barry: Yeah, it's hard to understand, because it says "in addition to", but I can't actually understand in addition to what becaust there's actually nothing to add it to.
Operator Carter: I think that's a typo, then.
Barry: Okay, so just to clarify, I'm sorry, ten purchases of any of your Healty Choice products equals 500 miles and with the coupon, the same purchases would value 1000 miles.
Operator Carter: That's it.
Barry: Well, do you realize that the monetary value of this promotion and the prize is potentially worth more the purchases?
Operator Carter: I don't know.

Barry: What's your name, Sir? Answer me!
Dean Trumbell: What's your name, asshole?!

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