The Upside of Anger

Rated 4.0

I haven’t seen a movie try to pull this many laughs out of alcoholic central characters since Dudley Moore cackled his way through Arthur. Give a lot of credit to writer-director Mike Binder for making The Upside of Anger a film that is funny, smart, and a stellar showcase for Joan Allen, one of the best actresses working today. Throw in a winning performance from Kevin Costner, and you’re looking at one of the year’s more pleasant surprises thus far. Allen plays matriarch Terry Wolfmeyer, drowning herself in vodka after the departure of her husband. He has apparently taken off to Sweden with his secretary, leaving Terry and her four daughters (Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt and Erika Christensen) to fend for themselves. Wily and oft soused neighbor Denny Davies (a nicely offbeat Kevin Costner), an ex-baseball player, drops by to eat free food and drink up with Terry, acting as a rather unreliable temporary father figure.