The Upside of Anger

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The Upside of Anger
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Binder
Produced byJack Binder
Alex Gartner
Sammy Lee
Written byMike Binder
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Kevin Sargent
CinematographyRichard Greatrex
Edited bySteve Edwards
Robin Sales
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • January 23, 2005 (2005-01-23) (Sundance)
  • March 11, 2005 (2005-03-11) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million
Box office$28.2 million[1]

The Upside of Anger is a 2005 American romantic comedy drama film written and directed by Mike Binder and starring Joan Allen, Kevin Costner and Evan Rachel Wood. It is set in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The film was produced by Jack Binder, Alex Gartner and Sammy Lee. The film received mostly positive reviews with praise for Allen and Costner's performances, and was also a moderate box office success grossing $28.2 million from a $12 million budget.


Beginning in medias res, the opening scene presents Terry Wolfmeyer and her four daughters, with a friend, Denny Davies, attending a funeral.

About three years earlier, a flashback reveals, a heavily intoxicated Terry announces to her daughters Hadley, Andy, Emily and Popeye that their father, Grey, has left the family to be with his secretary in Sweden. Terry continues to drink heavily to cope with her anger and pain, which causes her daughters to resent her. She later shares the news about her husband with her neighbor Denny, a retired baseball player turned radio talk-show host and fellow heavy drinker. Terry progressively grows close to the man, with whom she eventually begins an intimate relationship.

Keen to help where he can, Denny helps Andy to become a production assistant at the radio station where he works. There she meets Shep, Denny's producer who is a questionable character in his 40s; Andy and Shep begin a relationship which disgusts and angers Terry. Andy does well at the radio station, and soon outgrows the relationship. Meanwhile Popeye, a high school student, pursues a romance with a classmate, but he reveals to her that he's gay. They instead become close friends, bonding over their respective broken homes.

Terry clashes with Emily, who wants to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer and rejects her mother's desire for her to go to a traditional university. Emily ultimately relents and starts classes at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, but is soon hospitalized for complications from an eating disorder. She returns home to recover and, after a night at the ballet with the entire family, Terry appears to accept Emily's desire to pursue dance.

Hadley graduates from college and immediately afterward tells her mother and sisters that she's pregnant and engaged to her longtime boyfriend, David. Terry reacts with anger that Hadley had not told her sooner or ever bothered to introduce her to David, leading to an embarrassing drunken scene at a lunch with David's parents.

When Popeye asks Denny what his long-term intentions are concerning his relationship with her mother, Denny decides to broach the subject with Terry, only to be confronted by anger and accusations that he is trying to push her into a marriage for which she feels unready. Weary and tired of Terry's ever-shifting moods, Denny confronts her and then storms out of her house. After a brief separation, Terry finally acknowledges the depth of her feelings for Denny, and the two reunite.

When a real estate deal involving both Denny and Terry finally goes through, construction begins in the area surrounding their homes. A worker accidentally uncovers an abandoned, partially covered well, where Grey Wolfmeyer's body is found, revealing that he had never left his family. Rather, he had accidentally fallen in the well and died. Because Grey's secretary had abruptly returned to Sweden at the same time he disappeared, Terry believed he had run away with her.

As the story returns to the initial scene, the Wolfmeyers and Denny, now part of the family, leave Grey's funeral to reveal that Terry, while saddened and grieving, is coming to terms with her own and her daughters' life choices and, finally, finding some inner peace.



According to Mike Binder in the "Making of" featurette on the DVD, the script was rejected by several major studios due to the casting of Joan Allen(which goes unexplained); the Binders then sought independent financing, studios,and renegotiated compensation deals with talent to stretch the budget to complete the film. Additionally, according to the closing credits and the special features section of the DVD, much of the film was shot at Ealing Studios, London, with some scenes filmed in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. At one point in the film, Detroit rock radio station WRIF serves as a backdrop.

Costner's character, Denny Davies, is believed be based on Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain. Like McLain, Davies is a retired player from the Detroit Tigers who later had a radio talk show (several still pictures of Costner from his 1999 film For Love of the Game, in which he played a Tigers pitcher named Billy Chapel, are used as posters in Davies' radio studio).


The film holds a 74% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 181 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site critical consensus reads "A comedy/ drama for grown-ups, with fine performances by Joan Allen and Kevin Costner."[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards won[edit]



  1. ^ "The Upside of Anger". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 19, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "The Upside of Anger (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 19, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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