The Upside Of Anger (2005)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
Genres: Comedy Drama, Family Drama, Romantic Drama
A sharp-witted suburban wife, Terry Wolfmeyer, is left to raise her four headstrong daughters when her husband unexpectedly disappears. Things get even more hectic when she falls for her neighbor Denny, a once-great baseball star turned radio d.j. This leaves her daughters out on a limb. They are forced to juggle their mom's romantic dilemmas as well as their own. --IMDb
Mike Binder Mike Binder
Joan Allen Joan Allen
Kevin Costner Kevin Costner
Erika Christensen Erika Christensen
Keri Russell Keri Russell
Alicia Witt Alicia Witt

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: April 29, 2005
Have you ever seen a movie so good you had to watch it back to back? Before "The Upside of Anger", this had never happened to me. I caught both the 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM showings of this film for one reason -- it was amazing. The film was directed by Mike Binder, who brought us the brilliant 1993 picture "Indian Summer", and the less than stellar, but mildly entertaining "Blankman". Since those moderate successes, he has not done much. "The Upside of Anger" is kind of like his comeback picture, with Binder acting as both writer and director, along with featured actor -- he plays the lowlife of the picture. I could literally fill an entire review with reason after reason as to why this was the best film of 2005, and I still might. It made me laugh and cry in a way that no film has done in a long time. I took notes during this film and chronicled each and every piece of dialogue that just lept off the screen and into my heart -- it is truly some of the most astute comic writing I have ever seen translated to the big screen. Mike Binder has a bonafied masterpiece on his hands, and I guess that can count for either the comedy genre or the drama genre. "The Upside of Anger" is utterly entertaining and some of the best humor you will ever find at the theatre.

In the most diverse role of her career, Joan Allen stars as Terry Wolfmeyer, a middle-aged mother and housewife who has lived her entire life as the happy go-lucky homemaker, raising her four outspoken daughters (Erika Christensen, Alicia Witt, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood). All of this changes when Terry's husband up and leaves, taking only his wallet with him. He just abandons his family and Terry believes he has moved to Sweden with his secretary, with whom he had been having an affair. This betrayal sends Terry into the darkest depression of her life, her happy go-lucky demeanor quickly transforming into layer upon layer of bitterness, anger, and scorn. She is not the woman she use to be. To complicate matters, her next door neighbor Denny Davies (Kevin Costner) is constantly harassing her, trying desperately to be her drinking buddy, though obviously having ulterior motives deep down inside. As time passes, Terry and Denny slowly develop a relationship built on two things -- desperation and booze. If they can count on nothing else, it is that they will both be drunk by the end of the day. Terry's daughters also start dropping bombshells on her -- one gets pregnant and married, one starts dating the biggest slob in the history of slobs, and another won't eat and cares more about dancing than she does her own health. By the end of the film, everything has come full circle and we see what the title really means to us as an audience. How does it end? Find out for yourself, suckas.

This script is the best of the year -- snappy dialogue, downhome humor, and unbelievable pacing. There is one phenomenal scene where the family is sitting around the dinner table and Joan Allen eyes down the man her young daughter has brought home. Binder cuts from scenes of him devouring his soup to glimpses of Allen's eyes locking in on him until...BOOM. Watch the film to understand what I mean. There is another scene where Kevin Costner kicks down the bathroom door and delivers some of the most amazing dialogue of his entire career -- who knew "Bull Durham" could kick so much ass? But, the best scenes involve Allen and her daughters, as she tells them how horrible their father is without actually making it seem like she feels that way. Binder handles those scenes expertly and never disappoints us with cheap cop-outs and second hand speeches. In fact, I don't think we get a single sappy speech in the whole film, and that is something a comedy/drama usually relies upon. Kudos to him for having the guts to let simplicity do the talking...we need more writers and directors with that kind of courage.

And, as most reviews have pointed out, Joan Allen is extraordinary. This is certainly the greatest performance of her stellar career and she soaks up every scene in which she is in, most notably the scene where she is meeting the parents of her future son-in-law and the scene when she catches her daughter in bed with a man...hilarious. However, Joan Allen's performance is made stronger by such fine support from Kevin Costner. Dare I say this is the best performance he has given since "Tin Cup". There is just something about making Costner a baseball player that makes an audience smile, but unfortunately his last couple of efforts in that arena have not been anything worth smiling about. Hopefully, this film will show Costner that he can have a fine career without those ridiculous big budget epics like "Waterworld" and "The Postman" -- the guy has talent and charm and he uses both to full effect in this picture. Writer/Director Mike Binder also makes a wonderful lowlife as Shep Goodman -- we can see exactly why Joan Allen despises him, and really don't know why Kevin Costner tolerates him. Nice job there. As for the four daughters, each one brings something special to their character, Keri Russell being the most accurate example. What a great cast.

Without getting ahead of myself for 2005, "The Upside of Anger" is the best film I have seen thus far and will certainly make my end of the year list in December -- I don't care how many jewels get polished by then. I sat through this film twice, back to back, and loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. Joan Allen and Kevin Costner sizzle with chemistry, and both act their hearts out here. A lot of critics have been giving the film hell for the ending, but I thought it was appropriate. The film is entitled "The Upside of Anger", and we really have to go there as an audience before we can fully appreciate what that means. Binder also handles this ending with care and does not just spring it on us out of the blue -- he gives our minds time to wander and come to the conclusion by ourselves. "The Upside of Anger" is highly recommended by this critic and I suggest everyone give it a try -- it would make a perfect date movie and is worth watching by yourself, if you are a lonely, pathetic loser. So, I now head towards my catchy, and sometimes corny, catch phrase to end the review -- "The Upside of Anger" is the "Upside to Cinema for 2005". 9/10.
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