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The Upside of Anger
The Upside of Anger
Actors: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell
Director: Mike Binder
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sports
R     2005     1hr 58min

A touching yet humorous film about a woman who finds her and her daughters' lives changed by a former baseball star who steps into her life as her drinking buddy.DVD Features: — Audio Commentary:Commentary #1 with Director ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell
Director: Mike Binder
Creators: Mike Binder, Alex Gartner, Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Chris Curling, Jack Binder, Mark Damon
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sports
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance, Baseball
Studio: New Line Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/26/2005
Original Release Date: 04/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 04/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 58min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 37
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Wayne F. (WWIIpfc) from COLORADO SPGS, CO
Reviewed on 4/30/2014...
Very interesting plot, but I don't believe there is an upside of anger.
Amy N. (dejavualloveragain) from NEWCASTLE, WY
Reviewed on 2/14/2011...
Turns out that the Upside of Anger is the Downside of Boredom. I've tried to watch this movie 3 times, every time resulting in falling asleep (literally) about 20 minutes in. Kevin Costner, as usual, turns in a painfully monotonous performance in which he delivers every line with as much enthusiasm as a brain-dead monkey. Skeet-shooting anyone? PULL!
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ruth M. from KINSTON, NC
Reviewed on 9/13/2009...
good morning
1 of 8 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jane H. (Janie) from SPRING HILL, FL
Reviewed on 9/1/2009...
Good cast. Kevin and Joan were very easy to watch.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Tightly wound and ready to snap
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 03/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Should anybody ever ask you the meaning of the idiom "tightly wound", you only need recommend THE UPSIDE OF ANGER as a visual explanation.

Joan Allen stars as Terry Wolfmeyer, the middle-aged mother of four daughters precipitously abandoned by her husband, who's apparently run off to Scandinavia with his Swedish personal secretary. Terry internalizes her tremendous rage, and only just manages to control it with constant alcohol consumption. Her composure is further taxed by daughters Andy (Erika Christensen), "Popeye" (Evan Rachel Wood), Emily (Keri Russell), and Hadley (Alicia Witt) - all of whom are making life choices regarding love, sex, and education with which Mom vehemently disagrees. Circling the periphery of the Wolfmeyer household looking for a romantic opportunity with Terry is Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), an easy going but lonely ex-baseball star who subsists on beer and the money earned from autographing baseballs and hosting a radio talk show.

Once again, Allen demonstrates that her acting ability is a national treasure. Is it too soon in the 2005 film season to mention Academy Award? And Costner, who's had his Big Screen ups and downs, hits it just right with Davies, a role perhaps suggesting a composite of the characters he played in BULL DURHAM and TIN CUP. The young actresses playing the daughters are all beautiful and delightful, though it stretched my credulity to believe that they were siblings. And I think that there was one sister too many. (As in the planting of garden trees, three is the "right" number.)

It's enormously refreshing both to see a love story involving a man and woman, albeit boozy walking wounded, on the down slope of middle-age, and to see at work a talented actress (Allen), who, at least for this production, managed to crack the infamous age ceiling traditionally imposed on female leads. You go, girl!

Anger, though caustic to the soul, can also keep one going during bad times. Here, when Terry's mental crutch is suddenly yanked away late in the film by a surprising discovery in the woods in back of her house, she must emotionally evolve, and do it fast or sanity is lost.

For those viewers on the far side of forty, THE UPSIDE OF ANGER should prove to be an enormously engaging movie experience about relationships and inner salvation. While it won't, perhaps, prove to be the best film of 2005, it'll certainly be in the Top 20."
Black Comedy or Poignant Drama? In Any Case, It's Always Sma
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 08/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Terry Wolfmeyer was, in her daughter's words, the "sweetest, nicest, woman that anyone who knew her ever knew". That is, until her husband ran off with his secretary leaving her with 4 cheeky daughters, a lovely suburban Detroit home, and a lot of self-pity. "Then things changed. And she changed. She got angry. Good and angry." Terry (Joan Allen) turns herself into an embittered lush and has an affair with an equally drunk neighbor Denny Davies (Kevin Costner). Denny's an affable, easy-going ex-pro baseball player who trades on his former glory to make a living. Terry is of the opposite temperament: controlling, intense, and self-important, so they make quite a pair. Preoccupied with her husband's rejection and using her victimhood to excuse all manner of outrageous behavior, Terry still finds time to be appalled by her eldest daughter Hadley's (Alicia Witt) marriage, her ballet dancer daughter Emily's (Keri Russell) choice of career, and other daughter Andy's (Erika Christensen) boyfriend. Only the youngest of the family, Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood), escapes her venom.

The key to enjoying "The Upside of Anger" is to understand that it is a black comedy. The film's fault is that that is not obvious. The humor in Terry's behavior is clear, but it's always played straight, which sometimes makes it difficult to know if we are watching a comedy or a tragedy. The film's tone is inscrutable. It has a sense of humor, but at the same time is consumed by Terry's anger. Terry seems to have everything in the world except a husband, whom she apparently didn't love anyway. Her life is remarkably unchanged by his abandonment. Yet she never ceases to feel sorry for herself, and she tries to keep such a tight reign on everyone around her that we feel she might crack. Terry is sympathetic only up to a point. Fortunately, writer/director Mike Binder sensed the limit of our sympathy and made the characters act accordingly.

Even if we're unsure of how we should take Terry Wolfmeyer, this is one of Joan Allen's most memorable performances, and that's saying a lot. Terry is overbearing, seems to resent her daughters' happiness and successes, and goes out of her way to find something to criticize. But she is cognizant of her own foibles. She is also possessed of a fierce love for her children, even if they wish they saw more of the love and less of the fierce. All of the characters are self-aware and refreshingly forthright. Mike Binder has written a smart film with impressively sharp dialogue. -And he is fantastically funny in the role of Andie's lecherous older boyfriend Shep. Like Terry, Shep is a alternately sympathetic/repulsive/hilarious character who is, nonetheless, blunt and insightful no matter what he does. Denny Davies is Kevin Costner's best role in years, a tolerant, caring, slacker-ish neighbor who is brighter than he seems. Denny and Terry's boozy relationship is certainly entertaining and gives the film an element of romantic comedy. The audience can choose to take "The Upside of Anger" as seriously or as lightly as it wants. The film's greatest strength may be in the fact that it is simultaneously very funny and very true. But it's never dumb.

The DVD (New Line 2005): Bonus features include a theatrical trailer, 8 deleted scenes, a DVD-ROM (Windows only), a making-of documentary, and an audio commentary. "Creating the Upside of Anger" (27 minutes) features interviews with the cast, producers, and writer/director/actor Mike Binder. Binder discusses writing the film for Joan Allen and getting it made. Actors discuss each other, characters, and filming. There is some information on Mike Binder's career. This documentary should have been edited down, but there is some interesting info. The audio commentary is by Mike Binder and Joan Allen, moderated by Rod Lurie. It starts off as a prolonged mutual admiration society but does eventually move on to discuss characters, themes, and talk a great deal about decisions in writing the film. Binder does at one point address the comedy-drama genre confusion. Subtitles are available for the film in English and Spanish."
A fable about what a waste of time anger is
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When her husband's secretary goes back to Sweden and then her husband disappears, Terry Wolfmeyer (Joan Allen) puts two and two together. As far as Terry is concerned, her husband no longer exists and is dead to her and their four daughters. At the start of "The Upside of Anger" Terry is not so much angry as she is drunk. When next door neighbor and former baseball player Denny Davies (Kevin Costner) finds out about Terry's situation, both the news that her husband is gone and the fact that she is drinking all of the time, he walks into her house and into her life. Denny's reasons for doing so are not clear. He could just be looking for a new drinking partner, or he could be recognizing a person whose life has just crumbled beneath then. Then again, maybe he just wants sex. But when Terry decides she just wants sex, Denny flees, so we have to think there is more going on.

The relationship between Terry and Denny is the main plotline of "The Upside of Anger," but in addition to the missing husband and deciding what is up with this new man suddenly in her life, Terry has to deal with four daughters. Hadley (Alicia Witt) is about to graduate college and has a double-dose of news for her mother. Andy (Erika Christensen) does not want to go to college and just wants to work, which is also news for Terry. Emily (Keri Russell) is a dancer who wants to go to a small arts college, ideas that Terry disparages. Then there is "Popeye" (Evan Rachel Wood), real name Lavender, who is the narrator of the film in those few instances where we cannot be told a profound thought any other way. It is hard enough for Terry to deal with being an abandoned wife without her daughter's throwing an increasingly frustrating number of new monkey wrenches into her life as well. Consequently, there are moments where the dialogue gives way to inarticulate grunts and a particular memorable death wish daydream at the family dining room table.

I do not have a problem with the conclusion put together by writer-director Mike Binder ("The Sex Monster," "The Search for John Gissing"). Since I have the firm conviction that irony is the master trope of the universe, I appreciate the twist at the end of this one. Furthermore, I think that it underscores the message of the film, a conclusion I reached before I did the extras on this DVD and found out precisely what Binder says is his thesis proposition. Binder wrote the script specifically for Allen, so it is not surprising that her performance is on point, but Costner is equally as good in what is essentially a supporting role (his best moments are when he wins "Popeye" over and kicks down the bathroom door). It is not surprising that the four young actresses basically jumped on board because they wanted to work with Joan Allen (clearly there is a big upside to doing so).

My main complaint with this movie ends up being that it does not have enough deleted scenes. Dealing with what is happening between Terry and Denny is enough without trying to provide equal time to all four of the daughters. After all, it is not like this is adopted from a novel that you can go read after the fact to find out more about the characters. Binder wrote a script and not a novel, so this is all there is and there ain't no more. But I wish there was because it is the complexity of Terry's relationship with her daughters and how they all deal with Denny and the absent father. "The Upside of Anger" feels like it has the depth of a novel, which is a pretty good compliment for a movie of this sort.

Plus, you have to like any writer-director who writes a script in which his leading lady gets to slap him not only around but actually all the way down to the groud. The fact that Binder filmed this story, set in a Detroit suburb, at the Ealing Studios in London, is also impressive. Now the big question is whether the Academy will remember Joan Allen at Oscar time, because she should at least get a nomination out of this one (her performance is certainly better than all five of last year's nominees)."