Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

Punch Drunk Love

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Punch Drunk Love Movie Poster Image
Odd romantic journey for adults and older teens.
  • R
  • 2002
  • 95 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Violence and peril


Sexual references, including phone sex.


Very strong language, including call to sex line.


Healthy Choice pudding cups figure prominently in the story.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has a good deal of mature material, including very strong language, sexual references and situations including a call to a telephone sex line, and violence. Parents of Adam Sandler fans should know that this is very different from his other movies and should exercise caution in allowing teenagers to see it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 13 years old Written byJacob Hetfield April 17, 2019
Teen, 16 years old Written byAdvice boy July 15, 2017

What's the story?

Barry (Adam Sandler), the boss of a business that sells novelty toilet plungers whose affable exterior hides enormous fear and fury. Through the course of the movie, Barry unstops his clogged up feelings, charts a course between the sacred and the profane, and reaches toward love and harmony. Barry's emotional journey begins when he confides to his brother-in-law, and calls a 900 number out of loneliness. Fascinated by a frequent flyer mile program, he buys hundreds of boxes of chocolate pudding -- he's not aware of it yet, but he yearns to go somewhere. When he meets Lena (Emily Watson), he feels that she is what he is longing for. He tries to use his absurd pudding miles to follow her to Hawaii, and when that does not work, he pays for a ticket. In an exotic natural location away from home, the lovers tell each other the truth and find one another. Yet, complications arise when part of Barry's earlier journey comes back to haunt him.

Is it any good?

Writer-director P.T. Anderson ("Boogie Nights," "Magnolia") has created a highly original and intelligent movie. While the performance isn't really a stretch for comedian Sandler, he deserves a lot of credit for playing the straight man, without the distance and comfort (and hostility) of laugh lines. Watson is luminous, if enigmatic, as the warm-hearted girl who is a little surprised at how drawn she is to Barry. Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman is outstanding as a would-be extortionist.

Audiences are likely to feel a bit punch drunk themselves as they try to make sense of this odd romantic journey with its offbeat dualities, combining extremes of chaos and harmony and love and anger, but this is undeniably an arresting and challenging film. Those expecting an Adam Sandler movie or a romantic comedy will be disappointed, but those who are open to something a little twisted and messy will find it very rewarding.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the use of symbols in the movie. Why is the word "love" spelled out in the abrasions on Barry's knuckles? Compare that to Robert Mitchum's famous portrayal of a con man posing as a preacher in "Night of the Hunter," with "love" tattooed across the knuckles of one hand and "hate" tattooed across the other.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate