The Upside of Anger

by December Lambeth on April 8, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Upside of Anger
  • IMDB: link

It’s nice to see two main actors comfortable with getting older, it really shows in their performance and adds great depth to The Upside of Anger. Kevin and Joan both inhabit their roles and show life as it is, not always pretty and perfect, but livable. The Upside of Anger is a film for adults about falling in love again and learning how to take it in the chin when life throws you those unexpected punches. Be prepared to laugh, cry, pissed off and laugh again; a well done film compared to the likes of American Beauty and Sideways.

A sharp edged film with talent that adds a little cushion to the blows. The Upside of Anger is rich, realistic, dark, comedic, sarcastic and completely human; it’s what goes on when life happens. Writer/Director Mike Binder shows what happens when misguided anger controls your life.

The Upside of Anger has plenty of talent, but none stands out above Joan Allen and her embracing role as the well bred matriarch of the family, Terry Wolfmeyer. Kevin Costner gets credit for playing, yet another, has been baseball star whose fame has ran out on him and spends is days in a dazed drunken stupor. However, Kevin’s character as Denny Davies is a different twist on his past performances in Bill Durham and Field of Dreams; Kevin seems to be just as comfortable in is down played everyday guy roles as he is in the epic save the world characters. Denny is a wondering soul lost to a home and finds comfort in Terry and her beautiful family of four self-reliant girls and dinner at the table every night.

Terry assumes her husband has ran out on her with his Swedish secretary and left her with a mortgage and four grown daughters spread out between high school and college. The idea of handling what’s at hand is not an issue for Terry, she’s a strong woman who can handle herself and her family without her husbands help; it’s the idea that he left “her”, that she can’t deal with. Instead of dealing Terry tries to numb her pain and soften her anger with Grey Goose cocktails before noon and a heavy dose of daytime T.V.. Denny, pretending to be checking on a property deal with her husband, shows up at her front door with a beer in hand and seemingly stoned. Terry tries to dismiss him, but finds solace and peace in having a drinking buddy around who takes her anger in stride and gives her the proper breathing room needed to deal with her pain. Denny admits to always having a thing for Terry and starts to work his way into her life, taking it all blow by blow. Terry has found it’s very self-medicating to say what’s on your mind when ever it comes up, no matter the consequences or crushed egos and feeling along the way. Denny and the girls, Andy (Erika Christensen), “Popeye” (Evan Rachel Wood), Emily (Keri Russell), and Hadley (Alicia Witt), have been taking her tyrants and tantrums in stride, but are starting to become short fused themselves.

Amazingly enough Terry has raised 4 fairly even headed and anger controlled girls, who run the household and take care of things throughout their mothers emotional breakdown. Never bringing attention onto themselves for being left behind as well, but still kids who want to be heard, the girls keep their mother in check and in reality with their everyday life tests. Hadley is in college and has one of the more volatile relationships with her mom, she’s the oldest and has a little bit of that “you don’t love me, as much as you do them” mentality to her. Emily is the most opinionated about how her mother is acting and believes that it’s time to deal with it and move on. Emily has proven to be the second in line and doesn’t want to be like her older sister, Hadley, she wants to dance and not go to college; this is where her and her mother disagree and gives them more of the argumentative moments. Andy doesn’t want to go to college either, she just wants to get a job and move forward with her life. Andy and her mom goes to blows after Denny get’s Andy a job at the radio station he works at. Even worse, she hooks up with Denny’s skeevy producer Shep (Mike Bender) just to piss mom off. The look on Terry’s face when she finds the two of them in bed is priceless; she doesn’t say a thing, just throws a hissy and walks out. Then there is “Popeye”, Lavender, she is the youngest and flies under her mothers anger radar most of the film. She is testing her limitations and the experience of being a teen and falling in love or rather lust. Her first time out is a disaster that turns into a difference in sexual preference, but finds a great friend. Lavender, “Popeye”, seems to be the most grounded and straight thinking about this whole scenario and is out-letting any anger or disappointment through a school video project. All the girls contribute so much to the film and truly grasp the reality behind their characters.

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