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Netflix Pick: Love and Pudding in ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ (2002)

Today's pick is a sensational drama from none other than Adam Sandler.

Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 drama about a psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

Today’s Netflix Pick is a remarkable little gem that not only shifts entirely the perception of its star but delivers one of the most satisfying character studies ever put to film. Starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson, the film is a romantic odyssey of a man so entombed by the pressures of his world he can barely move and features one heckuva lead performance. It’s Punch-Drunk Love and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

Punch-Drunk Love
Punch-Drunk Love, 2002 © Columbia Pictures

THE STORY: Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, it follows Barry Egan (Sandler), who owns a small novelties company, working out of a warehouse. He has seven sisters who passively treat him terribly, causing him a great deal of stress, which takes shape in moments of extreme rage. One day, he meets Lena (Watson), a co-worker of one of his sisters, and the two connect in their own peculiar way but not before Barry, in severe loneliness, calls a phone-sex company and gets extorted for more money than he’s got, spurring the wrath off a dangerous man (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Meanwhile, Barry discovers a loophole in a pudding give away that might lead to some benefits if he can make it work. Can he balance it all?

Punch-Drunk Love
Punch-Drunk Love, 2002 © Columbia Pictures

WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: I know what you’re thinking and no, just because it’s an Adam Sandler movie, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it’s easily his finest performance yet, revealing a side to him that few knew he was capable of. Honestly, it’s mind-blowing stuff and if you have only watched his juvenile comedies and are thinking of dismissing this based on that, well, don’t because this is something altogether different and will have you rethinking your attitude about the actor. It’s a sensational turn, with Sandler creating a deeply-affecting character that resonates well after it’s over. I wrote about it here if you’d like to learn more. Don’t miss this tour de force performance that is the work in his career and one of the best movies of the last 25 years. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.

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