March 25 - 31, 2005• Vol. 26 - No. 12

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The Upside of Anger
- Believe it or not There is

by The Blonde and the Maven
Film Columnists

Joan Allen (Bourne Supremacy and The Notebook) stars as the sharp-witted Terry Wolfmeyer, a suburban wife and mother whose life takes an unusual turn when her husband unexpectedly disappears (apparently with his Swedish secretary). Struggling to deal with his sudden absence, Terry finds herself increasingly at odds with her four daughters as well as drowning her anger on a regular basis in vodka tonics. In the middle of all the drama comes her neighbor Denny Davies, starring Kevin Costner (Open Range and The Bodyguard). Denny, an ex-baseball star turned radio talk show host has always had the HOTS for Terry but could never act on it because he was friendly with her husband. Now that Terry's husband has apparently left her, Denny becomes her drinking buddy and slowly evolves into her source of strength as well as an ad-hoc father to her daughters. Things do get complicated, as Terry's daughters grow accustomed to having Denny around while attempting to juggle not only their mother's romantic dilemmas, but their own dilemmas as well. The story spans three years and is narrated by the youngest daughter, lovingly referred to as Popeye played by Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen and The Missing). The eldest daughter is Hadley, played by Alicia Witt (Urban Legend and Mr. Holland's Opus), who escapes the chaos at home by attending college. Erika Christensen (The Banger Sisters and Swimfan) plays Andy, the daughter who wants to skip college altogether and go directly into the workforce. Denny gets her a job at the radio station where she will be a production assistant to his producer Shep. Keri Russell (Felicity) plays the daughter Emily who dreams of studying dance at an 'Arts' college that her mom refuses to let her attend as she feels it is not academically challenging enough. Terry is a loose canon with the threat of an emotional outburst hovering over the entire film. As her situation deteriorates her tongue loosens and stings everyone with brutal honesty that according to Popeye, her once sweet mother never would have done before. Mike Binder wrote and directed The Upside of Anger as well as acting as the part of Shep. He previously wrote and directed Indian Summer as well as numerous hit shows on HBO. Find out for yourselves how a little anger can be ok in the end…
The Blonde: First of all it's hard to believe this film was written by a man because it is told mostly through the eyes of a woman. The Upside of Anger was like Little Women meets Hannah and Her Sisters. This film unexpectedly sent me into a journey of emotions. Speaking of emotions my Mammogram came back normal…You need to go for yours, stop Mavening around and go! By the way, sorry about my laryngitis I hated not speaking to you the whole night over dinner and at the movie.
The Maven: Are you kidding, it was the best conversation we've had in years. I had a great time.
The Blonde: OUCH! Ouch, but that still won't let you off the hook to get your mammogram…
The Maven: Fine I'll go! I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was an unlikely comedy with unpredictable yet very well defined characters in uneasy and hilarious circumstances. There was a lot of smart dialogue, low key drama, with so many instances that ring true on an emotional level. Joan Allen was simply amazing. She was able to display such raw emotion. I hardly ever like the characters she portrays (The Crucible) but I found myself really liking Terry.
The Blonde: At last Kevin Costner is in a GOOD film. The last time I enjoyed him was in Dragonfly. Although I felt the film was at times long and slow, it was so surreal that it kept me intrigued. The slow pace is well worth your while in the end. All of the characters were interesting, well developed and likeable in their own way. Except you had to hate the radio producer, what a creep! (Funny how this writer who wrote such a sensitive script wrote himself as the smarmy jerk who only had a thing for girls half his age). There were so many emotions and relationships running through the entire film you had to become Dr. Phil to analyze it as it progressed. Even though Joan's character Terry appeared to be angry, bitter, up-tight, resentful, very complex and drank too much she was real, honest and filled with many colors. Sadly, she had genuine reasons for her actions that put her into such great emotional turmoil. Her acting performance was stunningly marvelous as ALWAYS! Kevin's character Denny was more real than his normal roles but not a huge stretch for him. Speaking of stretch Robert Blake was found NOT GUILTY and Martha is still wearing a cuff around her ankle! Well, the shoe biz people are making a shoe for her that covers up her ankles with pretty ankle things… Hey Maven do you think the same guy who killed O.J.'s  EX also killed Blake's EX…?
The Maven: Leave Robert Blake alone. Have you forgotten he was Baretta? It couldn't have been the same guy that killed O.J.'s  and Blake's wives. One used a knife and one used a gun. Don't you watch CSI?
The Blonde: Girl there isn't enough time in the day for all those shows. You have me watching Springer, Oprah, Ellen, Dr. Phil, etc. so cut me some slack. Now, about Baretta… I never liked that show. I only liked Sammy Davis singing the theme song and the parrot! Don't let the gun, knife scenario fool ya either. It didn't fool the jury's that let them both go free!
The Maven: I loved that scene where Terry imagines Shep's head blowing off. Were you surprised or what? Talk about surprises, do you think there is any truth to the rumor that Demi may be pregnant?
The Blonde: I think we all have had a scene in our own lives like the Terry head blowing off scene… About Demi, I am waiting for her call to confirm that gossip… But what is truly amazing and TRUE is that Joan Lunden who is 50+ years old has received another set of twins from the same surrogate. Mav, how come you never offered to be a surrogate for me?
The Maven: Oh sure, so I get sick and fat? So blonde of you!!! While this film may be more of a chick flick than some men may like, it is well worth seeing. It's just short of being offensive when the two main characters are drinking so much. The language is soft and Kevin Costner is still quite the stud. I rate it a B for brilliant writing and casting.
The Blonde: I thought this film was going to be more of a comedy than it turned out to be although it did have some very funny moments. The best part for me was the outstanding surprise ending. It gave the film its needed closure and had me thinking all the way home. It made me think of my own decisions and hopes for my children, as well as assumptions about men (well maybe those were correct… just kidding…). It makes you think that the Dreams we want for those we love may not be their dreams… Interesting how this story makes one think long after it was over. I rate The Upside of Anger a B as well. I suggest for your snacks enjoying some sour worms, sour balls and sweet chocolate kisses at the end of the film. POPCORN IS APPROPRIATE TOO… Go and have some UPSIDE fun with your own anger.

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