The Upside of Anger

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The Upside of Anger
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

The Upside of Anger stars Joan Allen as Terry Wolfmeyer, a newly single mother of four who is both bitter and drunk. And controlling for that matter. Bitter because her husband up and left her with four beautiful young daughters to raise on her own and drunk because it seems that all she ever does is drink (please refer to the comment on the husband walking out on her). Controlling because of how she raises her daughters or at least how she wants to raise them. Her alcohol sometimes gets in the way of that, but her verbal barbs often keep them in line.

The movie chronicles the next several years of Terry's existance from the trials and tribulations of raising her daughters - including marriages, sickness, dating dirty old men, pregnancy - and culminates with the rather strange relationship she develops with an ex-Detroit Tigers baseball star named Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), a man who not only shares Terry's love of alcohol but also has a fondness for weed. Terry and Denny start out as "drinking buddies" but soon their bond develops into much more and becomes the focus of The Upside of Anger. Also starring are Erika Christensen as Andy, Evan Rachel Wood as "Popeye", Keri Russel as Emily, Alicia Witt as Hadley and Mike Binder as the dirty old man "Shep" (subsequently, Binder is also the writer and director of this movie).

The Upside of Anger is worth seeing, if not for it's solid story, then for the outstanding performances by Kevin Costner and Joan Allen. I cannot remember many of Allen's past performances but let me assure you that this is Costner's best performance in years. Both are simply terrific, playing tragic characters but with a flair for drama and comedy that is alone worth the price of admission. Although the movie does drag in some parts and many of the subplots are not as interesting as they would like to be (particularly the stories involving the daughters), the chemistry between Allen and Costner, the seriousness of the relationship and the comedy that goes along with it, all make The Upside of Anger a movie worth checking out. Mind you, this movie is probably more geared towards an older crowd, or at least a mature crowd. The screening I attended had some young punks in the crowd and I know they did not appreciate this movie.

I have to say, for me, it took a while for things to get going but once they did I found myself being mildly entertained and laughing out loud many times, especially at Costner. For that, I give this movie a thumbs up. It's not an overpowering movie, but it features a decent story, more than a handful of laughs, a few outstanding performances (Binder was also excellent as "Shep" Goodman) and overall, a good time at the theatre and really, what more could you ask for?

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