The Upside of Anger

Bomb Rating: 

In pretty much every advertisement I've seen for this film, there's been some comment like the following: "Kevin Costner's best performance in years." Is it any wonder that the film would use a line like that?

Frankly, I don't care if Kevin Costner's performance is the greatest acting feat in the history of the performing arts, the fact remains that he's playing yet another baseball player. Is this guy capable of playing anything other than a current or ex-jock? I think that he's simply such a terrible actor that he knows this is the only thing he can do and the audience believes him in that role because he's done it so many times, not because he's actually any good at it. You just sort of sit there and see Costner and think, "Oh, it's Kevin Costner. He's an ex-jock." It's a great way to be in a movie without actually having to do anything. It's like casting John Goodman as "a fat guy" or Paul Giamatti as "an everyman."

The movie starts out with Terry Wolfmeyer (Joan Allen) discovering that her husband has disappeared. She immediately assumes that he's run off with another woman and spirals into a ritual of drinking, self-loathing and anger. This behavior impacts her four daughters -- Hadley (Alicia Witt), Emily (Keri Russell), Andy (Erika Christensen) and Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood) -- as she takes out her frustrations on them.

Hadley announces that she's pregnant and getting married. Emily gets into a dance school. Andy says that she's not attending college. Popeye (who narrates) seems a bit too wise for her age. In her inebriated state, Terry feels free to berate them all because they're not doing things the way she would want.

Added to this mix is ex-baseball star and local radio host Denny Davies (Cosnter) who swoops in so fast to try and bed Terry that you'd think she had a neon sign that said "open for business" flashing in her crotch. Oh, sure, Denny seems harmless being that he's a drunk himself, but the speed with which he wends his way into the Wolfmeyer clan seems suspicious, to say the least. Add to that the fact that he essentially hooks Andy up with his lascivious radio producer, Shep (Mike Binder), and you have to wonder about his motives.

Oh, but wait, both Terry and Denny are drunks, so it's okay. They're just more in a series of Hollywood's lovable drunks. Despite the fact that both of them are voluntarily drinking their lives into the toilet, we love them because we know that when the time comes, they'll make some good decisions. Hollywood is simply in love with substance abuse because everybody in L.A. lives in such a twisted fantasy world that the only way to dull the pain is through some drug. Sure, lots of people do that, but far be it for a film to actually deal with the pain rather than mucking it up through the hazy lens of alcohol.

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