Punch-Drunk Love

Rated 2.0 A shy, repressed young man (Adam Sandler) courts the friend (Emily Watson) of one of his seven overbearing sisters, while scheming to amass promotional frequent-flyer miles and being harassed for an impulsive call to a phone-sex line. Writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) does his best to make a real actor out of Sandler, and he almost succeeds; Sandler is fairly restrained and is trying hard to be a team player. But the pieces of the story never quite add up. The film is too quirky and self-conscious for its own good, and it’s never as clever as it seems to think it is. Anderson should have trimmed some of the arbitrary plot threads and worked on making others more convincing, such as the abrupt, hesitant ending—and what Watson’s character sees in Sandler’s in the first place.