o doubt hard to watch for those who expect Adam Sandler to bumble into a romantic (or demonic) lead. What director Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia”) demands (and gets) of Sandler is an protracted state of paranoid neurosis and charmed delirium. The black comedy could be called “Romancing a Nervous Breakdown” if it weren’t so wedded to a fantasy world that stirs human dreams and disappointments in the same vat and lets characters forage for one or both.
Sandler’s beleaguered and love-starved salesman Barry Egan so badly wants good news that he all but conjures up companion Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) as a human anti-depressant. Anderson improbably tosses them into a warehouse and turns on the electron microscope. To put it mildly, PDL is an jarring and strange movie. It’s also impossibly optimistic, and that makes it American to the nth degree.