Exclaim!

The Upside Of Anger

Mike Binder

The Upside Of Anger
The title lies: there is no upside to this astonishingly ill-advised piece of emotional pornography. Joan Allen plays an upscale housewife whose husband has apparently skipped town with his secretary, leaving her alone to raise her brood of rather opinionated daughters (Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Erika Christensen, and Alicia Witt). This she manages with a maximum of self-pity, a heavy dependence on alcohol and a little help from the stoner ex-ballplayer next door (Kevin Costner), with insults and "you never appreciated me's" all around. Mother is simultaneously an insufferable monster and a Q.E.D. creation, her actions so clearly moulded to demonstrate the downside of anger that she can't possibly seem real. Meanwhile, her children have completely off-issue psychodramas that would traumatise us all if they were in any way convincing. The film is so casually designed to include every emotional problem known to man that it never bothers to fashion a theme to unify them, meaning you have no idea how to react or process the parade of gentrified misery. After half an hour of random angst, you pray that it might go somewhere; by the 90-minute point, you pray for a quick death. And when the "gotcha" ending basically negates the preceding 110 minutes, you curse the studio and scream for writer/director Mike Binder's blood. It's one of the year's worst films. Extras include a commentary with Binder, Allen and moderator Rod Lurie, on whose The Contender the trio all met. They have nothing but nice, hollow things to say about working together and lavish all sorts of reverence on a supremely insight-free film. Eight deleted scenes and a similarly delusional half-hour "making of" featurette round out the package. (Alliance Atlantis)
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