After nearly 12 years of scattered work which did include a short lived series on HBO, entitled The Mind Of A Married Man, Mike Binder would return with his most acclaimed cast to date and most interesting and possibly challenging film yet.
The Upside Of Anger stars Kevin Costner as an alcoholic ex-baseball player turned radio DJ and Joan Allen the newly alcoholic scorned wife of a husband who has apparently left his family for a younger woman, leaving his wife to finish raising their four daughters. When Costner discovers Joan Allen’s situation, a reluctant kinship is formed between the two until the true cause of Joan Allen’s husband’s disappearance is discovered.
The story centers around a woman who just wants to be sad over her apparent situation and a man of fame who ultimately wants to be forgotten by everyone including himself at times. The other central character is that of the self medication choice the two have made and that despite being a perfect match for each other, they are also toxic for each other. As their lives unfold and they grow closer along with experiencing tragedy together they seem to help each other.
With fantastic performances from everyone, especially a young and lesser known Evan Rachel Wood as “Popeye” the youngest of the sisters as the story is really told through her eyes that appear to be wise beyond her years, The Upside Of Anger is probably the best title in that it truly explains the complexity of a life that they thought was complex enough already.
Binder was at the time concerned that Costner would not be interested in once again playing a baseball player. His fears were releaved when Costner told him if the script is right and he likes the material he doesn’t care what the character does for a living. Joan Allen was a natural choice for Terry Ann. The two had worked together on the film, The Contender with Jeff Bridges and she had hoped Binder would be able to write something for her in the future and a better part, she could not have gotten.
It really is Binder’s finest film up to that point and is amongst his best over all. Despite the seriousness of it’s over subject matter, humor once again does not elude Binder’s script and film. It is his most polished film and most perfectly made. Binder appears in the movie as the womanizing Shep, Costner’s radio producer. Displaying the wit and underrated acting ability that landed him his series with HBO that unfortunately was cut short.