The "Upside of Anger" is a weird blend of family drama and romantic comedy starring Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Keri Russell, Erika Christensen and Alicia Witt. Much like 2004's "In Good Company," the film seems targeted to a slightly older, much-neglected demographic.
Tuesday's DVD release gives anyone with a taste for character-driven, offbeat scripts that lie just outside the Hollywood mold a chance to enjoy the film.
While awkward at times, the script stays afloat by relying on the strange appeal of characters who would come off as unappealing in other films.
Allen plays a mother of four daughters who realizes her husband has left her. As she deals with that emotional betrayal, her relationships with her girls takes on a codependency that begins pushing her daughters away even as she needs them most. At her worst, Allen's character is manipulative, vindictive and constantly in the drink.
Costner, meanwhile, plays a slightly befuddled ex-ballplayer who's dealing with real life now that his brilliant pro career is over. The two come together through the shared vice of self-destructive alcohol dependency. Allen does well with the lead, and Costner revives some of the appeal so abundant in his earlier acting career, even tearing down the baseball hero caricature central to his initial success ("Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams").
The film's DVD package, however, offers few meaningful extras. A commentary track with Allen and director Mike Binder (moderated by filmmaker Rod Lurie) covers the self-indulgent commentary basics, while a number of deleted scenes only raise confusion as to how and why scenes were selected for inclusion in the film in the first place.
Without its strong cast, "The Upside of Anger" wouldn't have much ground to stand on. It proves that even a clunky and meandering script can survive when its key players turn in worthy performances. And while no one is going to rush to pick up this title based on its extras, the DVD release is a chance for people to take a look at a film that deserves more attention than it received in theaters.
THE UPSIDE OF ANGER
New LineHome Entertainment; DVD $27.95; rated R; available Tuesday
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