The Upside of Anger
An afternoon special for edge-averse desperate housewives and a meandering sitcom that muffs the “com,” HBO alumnus Mike Binder’s The Upside of Anger strands yet another terrific Joan Allen performance in self-contradicting twaddle like a sapphire in extra-bland porridge. Allen plays Terry, a heavy-drinking upper-middle-class wreck with four daughters made more distraught when her husband blows town. She falls for a slothfully charming alcoholic talk-show host (Kevin Costner, reminding us why we once found him nearly tolerable), makes a drunken fool of herself at a wedding, etc., until eventually learning a psychologically dishonest answer to the movie title’s implied question via a plot twist telegraphed from the first shot that we prayed wouldn’t actually happen. Still, Upside does finally offer a believable reason for the invasion of Iraq: It’s something colorful for the movie’s upscale characters to get bored watching on television in frequent, utterly irrelevant in-film broadcasts.