The Upside of Anger (2005)
|Genre(s): Drama / Romance|
|New Line || R - 118 minutes - $14.98 || August 23, 2005|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-09-03|
Writer(s): Mike Binder (written by)
Cast: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder
Theatrical Release Date: January 14, 2005
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The Upside of Anger is a poignant drama about mother Terry Wolfmeyer (Allen; The Contender) and her four daughters: Andy (Christensen; Traffic), Emily (Russell; TVs "Felicity"), Hadley (Witt; Urban Legend) and Popeye (Wood; Thirteen). The film begins with the family around the dinner table where Terry lays it all out that their father, her husband, has run off with his Swedish secretary, leaving them without a word.
Soon after, neighbor and former baseball star-turned radio talk show host, Denny Davies (Costner; Dances with Wolves), comes into their lives. He begins his relationship with Terry as a "drinking buddy" that turns into something more. However, turmoil sets in as she must deal with the change in her life and the lives of her daughters who one by one seem to turn on her.
Upside of Anger starts off nicely, faulters a bit as the drama aspects never really gripped me, but then it turns around before the third act and picks up steam. Although I don't feel the movie in itself will be remembered, it's certainly something that should be remembered when it comes to this excellent ensemble that includes the always wonderful Joan Allen, the resurgence of Kevin Costner and the talents of four rising actresses, especially Erika Christensen and Evan Rachel Wood.
The disc has a feature length commentary from director Mike Binder (Sex Monster), who also co-starred as a slimy radio producer named Shep, and star Joan Allen; they are joined by Rod Lurie who moderates the conversation (Lurie, by the way, directed The Contender which not only starred Joan Allen, but also what got the ball rolling as Binder co-starred alongside Allen).
Anyways, the commentary itself is light-hearted and fun, but the trio also manage to bring out interesting factoids about the filming. There's some of the standard congradulatory stuff about getting Costner and such, but it's well contained and less condenscending versus what I normally hear. All in all, it's always nice to listen to commentary when the participants are friends.
On the surface, I thought Creating The Upside of Anger would be the standard 'behind-the-scenes' fair and while there are elements of that, this 30-minute plus featurette actually covers good ground on the making of the movie with interviews with the cast and crew as they talk about how the project finally came together (going to an indie studio as the majors passed on it), why the cast took the roles (with a smaller paycheck) and the success it had at the Sundance Film Festival.
There are 8 deleted scenes, most of which were cut for pacing, though a couple because it detracted from the film; one scene called "Denny Smoking with the Band" had Denny out in the woods with the wedding band smoking pot. This scene, like most of them, were funny, but in the context of the movie, they wouldn't have worked. There is optional commentary from director Binder with these scenes.
There is also a theatrical trailer which is fun to watch as it features scenes Binder deleted.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The movie is presented in grand 'ole anamorphic widescreen which looks just fine showcasing the "Michigan" subburbs and the lovely faces of the Allen and the daughters. This isn't exactly a film that bends the rules of filmmaking too much so the picture is just fine. New Line also includes the regular Dolby Digital track which in itself would've been fine, but they also include DTS. For this movie, I didn't notice too much of a difference as some of the scenes did seem lack sound quality (though in fairness this may have been due to the location or done on purpose).
The Upside of Anger is a fun and all around good character drama featuring great performances from the entire cast including Allen (derserving of at least a Globe nomination), Costner (showing that he can be a good actor if he takes the right role), Christensen (building off of her star-making role in Traffic) and Evan Rachel Wood (who did nice work in the mediocre Missing).
The DVD isn't overly packed with special features, but honestly, what else could they really include in a romance-drama-comedy? For what's there, the disc is actually pretty good and if you love the movie, then it's probably worth the money buying. For me, I only thought this was a good movie and due to some of the heavy dramatics (at times), I don't know how much I would watch it if it were in my already overblown collection.