The Upside of Anger

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Donít be mad Ė The Upside of Anger

Mar 18, 2005 (Updated Mar 18, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:Kevin Costnerís best movie in years

Cons:Few

The Bottom Line: More than a chick-flick, this was a genuinely entertaining move


Before I jump into my review, I want to be clear… I’m not really a fan of Kevin Costner. The last movie of his that I was really excited about was No Way Out, but that was more the story than his performance. Despite his status as a box office draw, I’ve never been that impressed with his depth of character… even in such hits as Dances With Wolves. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found many of his films entertaining; but Star Wars is entertaining too, and the acting in that is absolute crap.

So when I heard that he was the male lead in The Upside of Anger, I wasn’t expecting anything great, even though the movie as a whole sounded good. I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. This was one of the best ‘romantic’ dramas I’ve seen in some time.

The Story
Terry Wolfmeyer’s (Joan Allen) life is a wreck. One day her husband Grey (Danny Webb) took his wallet and never came home. He had known for several months that he was going to be laid-off from his job, and apparently when the time came, he left the country with his Swedish secretary.

Despite her more than comfortable life living in an exclusive northeastern suburb with their four daughters, Terry begins to drown her sorrows in a bottle (or three) of Grey Goose vodka. She is joined in her alcoholic stupor by family friend and local celebrity Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), a former pro baseball player who hosts a radio talk show. The two drinking buddies form a friendship that, over time, becomes something much more.

Meanwhile, the daughters’ lives are more deeply affected than Terry realizes. Hadley (Alicia Witt) returns to college for her final year, and probably has the easiest transition; Andy (Erika Christensen) blames her mother and struggles to follow her own dreams; Emily (Keri Russell), tries to alleviate her stress through excessive exercise and dance rehearsal; and the youngest, Lavender (Evan Rachel Wood), who everyone calls ‘Popeye’, has enough on her plate just dealing with high school, let alone her father’s disappearance and mother’s self-destruction.

Over the course of nearly three years, each of the Wolfmeyer women, save Emily, develop love interests; some special and meaningful like Hadley’s college sweetheart, others less appropriate like Andy’s relationship with a man old enough to be her father – Shep (Mike Binder) the afternoon producer at the station where Denny has his talk show.

Through it all, while each of them deal with their stresses – sometimes by attacking each other – they all still remain fiercely loyal to each other and grow stronger despite the bitterness they feel over being abandoned by Grey.

My Thoughts
This was a really entertaining movie. There wasn’t much of a plot in terms of the characters moving from point A to point B by way of obstacle C. Instead there was the slow development of a group of characters over time. Obviously, this movie is meant to appeal to women, but the men in the theatre seemed to be equally interested in the characters.

While this was technically a drama, there were many moments that had the whole theatre laughing. My favorite line in the movie came from Shep, the older boyfriend of the Andy, who said, “That’s the problem with being a deviant. People think you’re so one dimensional.” And Costner, who is so often stiff, boring and predictable in his acting, was charming in his role as the rebound romance… maybe because his character was so flawed. In fact, that’s part of what I liked about this movie overall. Because the characters had weaknesses that were neither celebrated nor the subject of lengthy homilies, the whole movie felt more real than most movies set in the affluence of the north Atlantic states.

If there was any real downside to this movie, it was the ending. I liked that it was unexpected, but it lacked a ring of truth and the honesty of the rest of the movie. I don’t think it ruined the movie, but it didn’t do much to help it either.

Upside deserves the ‘R’ rating for the sexual situations and some profanity, but I think most teens age 15 and older can handle it. Overall, I’d say this is a movie worth seeing… perfect for a ‘girls’ night out’ or date night.


Recommend this product? Yes


Movie Mood: Date Movie
Worst Part of this Film: Ending

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