The Upside of Anger (2005)
Review Date: March 16, 2005
Director: Mike Binder
Writer: Mike Binder
Producers: Jack Binder, Alex Gartner, Sammy Lee
Joan Allen as Terry
Kevin Costner as Denny
Erica Christensen as Andy
Out of the friggin’ blue, a woman’s husband leaves her and their four grown-up daughters one day, leaving her bitter, angry and an alcoholic. Into her life comes Denny, an ex-baseball player who also likes to drink, but enjoys hanging out with the five pretty ladies as well. This film doesn’t really have much of a “story”, but it does follow these folks around as they attempt to live their lives post-daddy-dearest. Lots of drinking ensues.
I hear that the original title of this film was I AM BITCH, HEAR ME ROAR, but the studio decided that it might not “play” to its target audience of middle-aged women with chips on their shoulders as well as the current title might. Hehehe, I kid, of course…I kid because I love. Seriously though, despite this movie playing a lot like an AMERICAN BEAUTY-lite or something out of the TV Movie of the Week department, I personally couldn’t help but be taken in by it, on account of its great-looking cast of ladies in the lead spots, as well as the lifetime ex-baseball player himself, Kevin Costner, in a nice supporting role. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie with a nice polish or anything, in fact, it’s actually a decent story with cute laughs, sexy moments, tender times and lots and lots of tension all around, but if you’re looking for something that will transform your life inside and out, well…this film certainly didn’t do that for me—then again, I guess I’m not really its target market of ladies, now am I? Major kudos go out to Joan Allen in the lead “bitch” role, a woman abandoned by her husband for his secretary, who simply can’t help but be angry and bitter soon thereafter—who can blame her, right? What I especially liked about her character was the fact that she liked to drink…a lot! Coupled with Costner’s character’s drinking problem in the film, I was able to relate quite a bit to their predicaments since I myself befriended “the drink” a few years back as well (we remain acquaintances and try to see each other every other weekend—although we’ve agreed that we can see other people at the same time).
But you don’t need to appreciate the taste of alcohol on your lips to value Allen’s performance, which despite being an early year entry, should be remembered during the end of the year awards. Costner, on the other hand, doesn’t grant us with any deep characterization, but plays with his hair a lot, and…well, drinks a lot…which was nice. The four lead daughters were also very good and pleasant to look at, which made the film all that more enjoyable for me. Unfortunately, none of the girls’ stories had much depth to them, but given their unique personalities, things were -- at the very least -- kept quite entertaining. One “dream” sequence at the dinner table is a gas, and I can’t say that I’ve seen much prettier dinnerware in any movie than this one. I wish I was eating with those people! Most of the way though, the film doesn’t have an arc per se, and is essentially following these people through their lives…après-dad. It’s interesting enough, particularly for adults, but when all was said and done, I couldn’t help thinking that there could have been a little more to it all. The film’s contrived conclusion, set to the youngest girl over-narrating the whole “Here’s the point of the movie…pay attention!!” angle didn’t do it for me at all, especially with all of the film’s Ts and Is crossed and dotted so nicely. Lame-o ending aside, the film plays well, all of the actors are well cast and attractive (yeah, I’m talking to you, Costner!) and it generates enough moments to be recommended to anyone looking for a engaging, adult drama with a little alcohol mixed in for fun.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian