The Upside Of Anger

The upside to this family drama, which is as contrived and pretentious as its title, is the always fascinating Joan Allen. Beyond that, it's pretty much a downhill ride. The title alludes to the way three years of misdirected fury have transformed Terry Wolfmeyer (Allen, looking buff and quite beautiful) from a friendly, upper-class suburban mom into a bitter,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The upside to this family drama, which is as contrived and pretentious as its title, is the always fascinating Joan Allen. Beyond that, it's pretty much a downhill ride. The title alludes to the way three years of misdirected fury have transformed Terry Wolfmeyer (Allen, looking buff and quite beautiful) from a friendly, upper-class suburban mom into a bitter, intractable shrew who can't cope with her own four daughters. Fifteen-year-old Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood), the youngest and the film's intermittent narrator, assures us that her mother wasn't always the tart-tongued harridan we see slinging back booze for breakfast and warning her daughters that they'd best give her the benefit of the doubt at every turn. Only after waking up to find that her husband, Grey, had snuck away like a thief in the night did Terry begin her protracted descent. Convinced that Grey and his Scandinavian secretary/mistress are now somewhere in Sweden, Terry doesn't even bother to try to track him down. Instead, she hooks up with her neighbor, Denny (Kevin Costner), an alcoholic, former pro-baseball player who now hosts a radio show on WRIF where he yammers on about everything but baseball, stocks up on Grey Goose and systematically torments each of her daughters. The oldest, Hadley (Alicia Witt), who's convinced her mother hates her, goes away to college, leaving the others to bear the brunt of Terry's rage. Emily (Keri Russell) is passionate about ballet and wants to study dance theory at an arts college, but Terry, who was forced to defer her own dreams of becoming a poet, insists Emily "live life seriously" and apply to a "real" school. Instead of college, Andy (Erika Christensen) has opted for a job at WRIF and soon begins sleeping with Denny's schlumpy, middle-aged producer, Shep (the film's writer and director, Mike Binder), a man Terry loathes. Popeye, meanwhile, is trying to work the broken family angle to attract a cute schoolmate (Dane Christensen, Erika's little brother). Relegated to a supporting role, Costner is pretty good. The role of a has-been who's still cashing in on his fading fame fits him to a T, and it looks as though he even dug out his old BULL DURHAM (1988) bomber jacket for the occasion. Not even Allen, however, can save the film from its own excesses, including a few badly staged scenes, and it's hard to believe that any married homeowner could go three years without resolving her husband's disappearance with either the bank or the police.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: The upside to this family drama, which is as contrived and pretentious as its title, is the always fascinating Joan Allen. Beyond that, it's pretty much a downhill ride. The title alludes to the way three years of misdirected fury have transformed Terry Wo… (more)

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