The Upside of Anger is very much a hit and miss affair, with Costner and Allen doing their best with a less than perfect script. The film only deviates slightly from the typical romance timeline, and thankfully there are enough actors in attendance to distract us from the sometimes disappointingly simple character arcs.
Costner is quite entertaining as Denny Davies, who spends most of his time drunk and/or stoned. He’s a much more interesting actor now that he no longer headlines movies in solitude (I’ve never been tempted to sit through The Postman). Joan Allen, whilst horribly thin (when she gets angry it looks like she has gills) also does a good job as the very flawed Terry. The quartet of daughters make for some interesting dynamics, and an impressive bunch of young actors has been assembled. Erika Christensen is disappointingly underutilised, unfortunately, and Evan Rachel Wood’s storyline has to be the least interesting of them all, however Kerri Russell is particularly suited to this type of drama. The director himself appears in the form of little more than weak comic relief.
There are some admirable moments in this film that raised a chuckle in the cinema, but this is a decidedly average comedy drama overall. There were a few too many scenes that ended with the stage direction ‘they all laugh’, which got to be a bit much after a while, leaving me squirming rather than smiling.
Merely entertaining at best and mediocre at worst, The Upside of Anger could have maybe done with a little compression in the editing (or even scripting) stage. There are too many dud moments that do nothing but flesh out a film that should have been 100 minutes or so. The performances are great, but this film will be nothing more than a blip on the actors’ respective filmography radars.Rating: