Who goes to a movie anymore because Kevin Costner is in it? Anybody? Anybody? Well, give another chance to the Oscar-winning maker of "Dances with Wolves" (1990) and the star of one of the unsung bests of all time, "Field of Dreams" (1989).
One reason Costner is so good as the lead actor in "The Upside of Anger" is that he plays a very guy's guy with a satisfying blend of maturity. (Imagine that - maturity in a very guy's guy.) Actually, he plays a huge but generous supporting role in a movie that is not about him.
The best reason to see this Kevin Costner film is that it really is a Joan Allen film. Most moviegoers will not know Joan Allen, although she has three Academy Award nominations, including the title role as "The Contender" (2000) and a supporting role as the first lady in "Nixon" (1995). In "The Upside of Anger," Allen mostly plays as angry and depressed as any actress ever played a woman whose husband done up and gone.
Because of this woman's four daughters and because Kevin Costner's character is the grounded fool who finds vitality in this intense female zone, Allen gets to tackle a range of emotions that will likely receive an Oscar nomination, despite the horribly timed spring release of this surprising film.
Not incidentally, the four daughters - all richly realized characters - keep this decidedly middle-aged dramatic comedy young. Yes, "The Upside of Anger" is more about life than some people with popcorn in their laps want to experience. Fortunately, the comic and romantic accents will carry all comers well.
Oh, and there is one grand departure from the storied realism in this film. These perfectly injected 30 seconds alone are worth the price of admission.