HTF REVIEW: The Upside of Anger (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Stone, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
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    The Upside of Anger
    Director: Mike Binder

    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2005
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
    Running Time: 117 Mins.
    Rating: R
    Audio: 6.1 DTS-ES Discrete (English), 5.1 Dolby Digital (English), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English)
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    MSRP: $27.95
    Street Date: 26 July, 2005

    Review Date: 6 August, 2005
    (Ratings are out of five stars)


    "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

    Joan Allen is a bitch. Well...okay, maybe that was harsh. Joan Allen plays a really good bitch. That sound better? She's made a career of playing pretty rational, even-keeled characters, and maybe that's what's so shocking about this turn. Allen plays a mother of four girls whose life comes crashing down when her husband unexpectedly leaves. She hooks up with Kevin Costner's already worn-out ex-professional baseball player, Denny. The story tracks the strange chaotic union between Allen and Costner, and the half-assed parenting of Allen's four daughters.

    The tone is a little inconsistent, but it works well. An overall level of humor throughout the film is highlighted by moments of rage, hatred, and general malaise. Costner does a great job of playing against his standard type. Rather than aiming at the middle, he's able to tap into some actual darkness. Not to mention that he plays a very convincing slob. Allen's children in the film aren't the center of the story, but they inhabit their roles very well. As someone who has experienced divorce first hand, it's a strange experience that your actual life continues to go on, while your home life is in shambles. The children of the film are used very effectively to convey this point. Voice-over from one of the children was used a little too often to convey the "message" of the film. The film would have been stronger if the message was a little more understated.

    The Upside of Anger could have easily fallen into the pattern of a typical weekend Lifetime movie. The level of sarcasm maintained elevates it above the type. Whenever the film seems to be heading toward over-dramatization, biting humor undercuts it. Usually I'm not a big fan of films that build their story on the simple idea of people being unhappy with each other, but I'll be damned if I didn't have a really fun time watching this film. The characters may be depressed, but the film is far from depressing.

    Film Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I noticed a little graininess during the opening scene, but other than that I didn't see any large problems. The colors vividly represent the seasons (especially the wonderful blue during the winter scenes). Visible detail is fantastic, especially in darker scenes. I didn't notice any visible edge enhancement or artifacting on my projector or PC. New Line has done another terrific job with this DVD.

    Video Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The film is primarily dialog driven, but the score is pretty enveloping. The rear channels weren't used that often, but the overall quality was high. The DVD features a DTS track in addition to the standard DD 5.1 and 2.0. I didn't notice any significant differences between the two 5.1 tracks. You'll be happy with either of them.

    Audio Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Deleted Scenes - The DVD features eight deleted scenes with the ability to watch them all together or separately. They also feature commentary from Director Mike Binder. I found some of them to be interesting, but for the most part they belonged on the cutting room floor. Binder does a good job of addressing why the scenes were cut.
    Commentary - I didn't get the chance to listen to the entire track (trying to get this review up as quick as possible, sorry for being late [​IMG]), but what I did hear was very interesting. The track features Director Binder, Allen, and is moderated by Rod Lurie. All the principles sound very comfortable with each other, and Binder is very insightful about his film. When I get some more free time, I will definitely revisit this commentary.
    Featurette: Creating The Upside of Anger(~30 mins) - This is a pretty standard featurette, but it contains some interesting interviews with the cast. It provided a lot of good information Mike Binder's career thus far and how the cast became involved in the project.

    The DVD also features the original theatrical trailer as well as trailers for a few other New Line films.

    Extras Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In Closing…
    Anger may be a useful emotion, but not if it alienates those closest to you, and especially not if it's justified on thoughts rather than facts. Binder's message comes across loud and clear. His writing and direction is very consistent throughout, aside from the drastic turn in the final act, but even that doesn't destroy what came before it. That being said, I tend to dislike twists, so it did seem a little unnecessary and hurt my enjoyment a bit. Still, in a genre where archetypes rule, Costner and Allen are able to play fully three-dimensional characters that seem very real. Obviously Joan Allen was strong, but I was most surprised with Costner. I loved Kevin Costner's performance in JFK, but since then I haven't been too impressed with anything he's done. He was damn solid here, and able to go toe-to-toe with Allen for the length of the picture. If you are a little squeamish when it comes to uncomfortable humor, this film may get under your skin, but to those of you that can stand it, I can easily recommend this DVD. This isn't officially listed as one of New Line's Platinum Series DVD releases, but it has definitely received the Platinum treatment.

    Overall Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Matt Stone
    6 August, 2005
  2. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Jul 6, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    Great review, Matt. I agree that the humor is probably going to be uncomfortable for some, although there was one scene in particular that had me laughing explosively.

    Allen's character is clearly drinking away her sorrows (and she has some legitimate ones), and Costner comes across as a willing drinking buddy. Again, this is edgy stuff, but it fits with the characters and their situations.

    Joan Allen should get award consideration for sure.

    - Steve
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan Second Unit

    Nov 17, 1998
    Likes Received:
    It's actually in 6.1 discrete DTS which surprised me. Not the typical movie to have this, but still pretty cool that New Line would go through the trouble. Excellent movie.
  4. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
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    Hmm, the DVD is misprinted then. I'll go ahead and edit the review.

  5. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    i'll confirm the dts -es.
    i didnt notice anything from the rear center but but light indicator was on.

    no indicator on the DD track.

    i thought it was a good movie.

    4 1/2 stars though?

    this has me curious to see indian summer, a binder movie from about 10 years ago that recently came to dvd.
    mind of the married man coming soon also.
  6. TheBat

    TheBat Producer

    Aug 2, 1999
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    Real Name:
    I saw this movie. I agree that its a very interesting film.. its not for everyone.. it did remind me of the old mash tv series in which they could go from comedy to drama just like that.. they do that in this movie. just don't watch this movie as a double feature with million dollar baby.

  7. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 27, 2002
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    if you go right up next to your rear speaker, you can hear the score coming out of it and light sound effects. Which is odd because ussually when something is in discrete DTS ES from New Line, they don't send any music to the rear speaker (at least in my experiences with their DVD's). But what's nice is even though it's in 6.1 and there's music coming from the rear speaker(s), there is no build up.

  8. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
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    I'll second that thought. I just saw this for the first time last week. She was absolutely fantastic in this role! Kevin Costner was pitch perfect as well.

    Terrific film, IMHO.
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:

    Similar to real life for many of us, since we live in a comedic drama.


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