Parents' Guide to

Punch Drunk Love

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Odd romantic journey for adults and older teens.

Movie R 2002 95 minutes
Punch Drunk Love Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

Touching, suspenseful and curious, this is a great film for mature teens despite lots of mature dialogue

Punch Drunk Love (2002) follows Barry Egen, a socially awkward and depressed man who, while being mistreated by his sisters and struggling to find people to talk to, wanders on a phone sex line due to his desperation to find someone to talk to. Doing so exposes his information to dangerous people, meanwhile, he meets a woman who begins to change his life for the better. Expect lots of language and sexual dialogue along with some violence. VIOLENCE: MILD There is a sudden car crash in the opening minutes of the film which acts as a jumpscare. A man is kidnapped and thrown into a car, and later punched in the face and knocked to the floor after being robbed. While pulling into his garage, a man is suddenly hit in the side of his car (on purpose) causing the car to spin around. When the car violently halts, the woman inside has blood running from her head. In anger, the man gets out of the car and walks at a man holding a tire iron. The man suddenly punches him in the face strongly, takes the tire iron, and beats the other man upside the head with it. Finally, he takes the tire iron, beats another man in the face with it, and throws it at one of the men inside the car. This is unexpected and intense. Strong verbal threats with profanity are used at the end. LANGUAGE: SEVERE 33 uses of fuck, 6 uses of shit, multiple uses of cock and pussy (sexually), and some milder profanities. Towards the beginning of the film, strong profanity is used in a strongly sexual context. In the end, strong profanity is used violently and aimed at people more frequently. SEXUAL CONTENT: MILD A man calls a phone sex hotline. Here, a woman speaks to him in a very sexual manner, saying she's staring at her shaved "pussy". She also asks numerous times throughout the scene if the man is "stroking it", "jerking off", or has his pants down. She asks how often he "jerks off". Then, she tells him to take his pants off and imagine they were together, which he does. We see him unzip his pants and begin to masturbate from behind as the camera pans away, but this is implied and very much off-camera and not explicit. More scenes in relation to the phone sex hotline are shown or seen. We briefly hear a woman in a talking room asking on the phone if a man on the other end is stroking his "cock". We also hear on the phone that a woman can't get to the phone because she is shaving another woman's "pussy". A man and a woman make out on a bed kissing each other's necks, and sex is implied. The only factor that makes the sexual content heavier is the dialogue, which does play a major role in the film. While the sexual content in this film is generally on the milder side, it would be more appropriate for older teens.
age 14+

Adam Sandler's best movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman is hilarious.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (12 ):

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.

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