Punch-Drunk Love


Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37

Where To Watch

Stream On
Stream On
Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Through this miasma of pain and suffering, love may not flicker more strongly than a dim lamp. But it's the only beacon to consider. Can Barry find his? Thanks to Anderson's assured picture, a symphony of cinematic textures, that disarmingly simple question becomes incredibly compelling.
  2. 100
    Anderson orchestrates a comic romance like no other. The effect is intoxicating. Sandler and the movie will knock you for a loop.
  3. With its feverish, percussive soundtrack and bravura cinematography, is like a bolt from the blue, chock-full of unexpected delight.
  4. 91
    Anderson delivers a satisfyingly quirky, cinematically masterful valentine that contains more seeds of truth about the human heart than a hundred big fat Greek comedies.
  5. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    I found it exquisite. In part I responded out of sheer amazement: I've never seen anything like the sequences in which Sandler, in his boxy, sea-blue suit, charges around his warehouse to the rhythm of Brion's harsh drums.
  6. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Entirely unpredictable and marked by audacious strokes of directorial bravado.
  7. 90
    Something we haven't seen before: a manic-depressive romantic comedy that aspires to the soul of a musical. It's a new-fashioned love song.
  8. Whether Adam Sandler can actually act is not actually answered in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love. But he's great in it.
  9. 88
    It's a small victory, but Punch-Drunk Love knows how to reap epic delight from the most precious of details.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a honey of a performance: controlled, achingly human, and funny in the deepest ways.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Despite its title, Punch-Drunk Love is never heavy-handed. The jabs it employs are short, carefully placed and dead-center.
  12. 88
    The film is exhilarating to watch because Sandler, liberated from the constraints of formula, reveals unexpected depths as an actor.
  13. No film this year has offered quite the cerebral tickle, weird invention and slaphappy gusto.
  14. An Adam Sandler movie with class, and if that sounds like an oxymoron, so be it. The movie is a happy nightmare of silly-smart movie comedy that defies category - and challenges expectations involving Sandler and his pictures.
  15. Deeply rich and strange new romantic comedy.
  16. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Difficult too, and certainly problematic, but it's sometimes quite wonderful. Do see it if you're curious about one-of-a-kind films, and if you care about the ever-evolving career of one of our most gifted filmmakers.
  17. 80
    It's funny, too, though marked by an uneasy humor that's usually difficult to achieve. Anderson handles it with expert ease: At this point in his career, he moves the camera like a skilled dance partner, investing the smallest gesture with significance.
  18. Poetry is perhaps the best way to think about Mr. Anderson's suave, exuberant balance of free-form inspiration and formal control.
  19. 80
    The movie winds up being his sunniest, for Anderson takes care to keep their love sweet, daffy and punch-drunk. This is a film in which that modern obsession, frequent-flier mileage, becomes proof of fidelity, and true intimacy is portrayed by a man telling his lover, "I'm sorry I beat up the bathroom."
  20. 80
    The outlandish story and exaggerated colors ... swirl together to create an ethereal, sometimes sinister dreamscape.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    There is something arresting about it too. The damned thing keeps gnawing at your mind -- if only for its almost perfect lack of conventional sentiment. Or movieness.
  22. Charming and outlandish by turns, this misfit love story of disconnected people trying to find one another in an antagonistic world is a comedy of discomfort and rage that turns unexpectedly sweet and pure.
  23. A startling achievement, but its lack of psychological dimension prevents it from making much human contact with us. It ends where it begins: in a state of shock.
  24. Anderson and Sandler were meant for each other, and their romance is, unbelievably, our reward.
  25. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Punch-Drunk Love is one dark, strange-tasting sorbet, its sweetness shot through with startling, unexpected flavors. It’s a romantic comedy on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
  26. 80
    It works because of Anderson's ability to challenge viewer expectations. Instead of making his principal actors change, he manipulates the story and dialogue to match their characters. His exquisite art-house camera shots and sense of pacing set Sandler up to do his usual thing in an almost poetic manner.
  27. 75
    Quirky and stylish, but not in a manner that comes across as overly artsy or pretentious.
  28. 75
    The result is a treat for Sandler fans and a revelation for those of us who've spent the last decade wondering what on earth his appeal is.
  29. One of the most inventive offerings so far this season.
  30. Sweet-natured, meticulously observed love story.
  31. 70
    The strangest thing about writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's unusual romantic comedy is how much of it is based on a true story.
  32. 67
    Unconventional and idiosyncratic love story.
  33. Sandler and Watson make something out of their underwritten roles, and that they do is testament to their talents: They make this punchy romantic comedy more engaging than it should be.
  34. 50
    As elegantly crafted as it often is, Anderson's movie is essentially a one-trick pony that, hampered by an undeveloped script, ultimately pulls up lame.
  35. I wouldn't have minded even the Hollywood schlock lurking behind the studied weirdness if I'd believed in any of the characters on any level.
  36. Punch-Drunk Love buries a terrific performance by Adam Sandler under a heap of faux cleverness, meaningless symbolism and irritating mannerisms.
  37. 25
    Essentially a weird series of nonsequiturs. I'd rather be watching a sequel to the much-maligned "Little Nicky" -- a Sandler film that was at least trying to do something interesting -- than this failed experiment in fusing high and low culture.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 272 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 74 out of 123
  2. Negative: 41 out of 123
  1. JacintaG.
    Nov 16, 2003
    I'm all for slow, quirky films- but this was a complete bore. It's a crap movie. There was a peep or brilliance shining through at I'm all for slow, quirky films- but this was a complete bore. It's a crap movie. There was a peep or brilliance shining through at some point, but was squashed flat by the non-existent a plot. Don't waste your money. Full Review »
  2. Jun 19, 2013
    After watching this movie I thought to myself what is Adam Sandler doing. This guy can really act granted Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant,After watching this movie I thought to myself what is Adam Sandler doing. This guy can really act granted Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant, but Sandler gives an outstanding performance. I connected in so many ways with Barry and that's a credit to Sandler. I so hope one day after he is done making the likes of Jack and Jill and Grown Ups 2, he might get another shot at making something meaningful. Full Review »
  3. DrewD.
    Jan 10, 2009
    It is really a testament to the sadness of America that half of them cannot appreciate a film like this. Most of them just think it is It is really a testament to the sadness of America that half of them cannot appreciate a film like this. Most of them just think it is dumb--they say it is "disjointed" or that the leads have "no chemistry". This is what doing nothing but watching TV and standard Hollywood films does to your brain: you can't understand real human relationships (which are not "explainable" and are in fact "random", at least for most of us), you can't empathize with those who clearly have some sort of disorder, and can't figure out the unity of an actually pretty straightforward film, by artistic cinematic standards. Then, perhaps even worse, there are a group who recognize that they can't understand the film, but are too proud to admit it and accuse the film of being "pretentious" and full of "fake symbolism". I am not surprised though, that those who were expecting a standard Adam Sandler film, where you are supposed to laugh at someone who is different, didn't like this film, where you are supposed to feel for someone who is different. A shame. Full Review »