Have you seen P.T.Anderon’s “Punch Drunk Love?” If yes, I should tell you a little bit about Superman.
Superman is an outsider to the human race. He’s from a planet deep in outer space that was destroyed and he’s living on a planet full of people he will never truly be able to relate to. His pod crashed on Earth and the only material possessions he had were the cloth he was wrapped in that becomes his famously-colored blue and red uniform, and a crystal that created his fortress of solitude that he would retreat to whenever something was bothering him. Superman’s two most famous powers are flight and super-strength. As a super hero, he’s also got himself a super-villain arch-nemesis. The love of his life is Lois Lane and he represents truth and justice.
Now, let me tell you about the main character in Punch Drunk Love. Barry Eagan.
Barry Eagan asks his sister’s husband to get him a psychiatrist. In that scene, Barry says: “I don’t know if anything is wrong with me because I don’t know how other people are.” Barry feels that he’s an outsider to the rest of the human race. He doesn’t see himself as being on their team, if you will.
Barry Eagan has seven sisters. Pleiades is a star cluster in the constellation, Taurus. The cluster’s knick name is: “The Seven Sisters.” Barry’s blood runs through the veins of the seven sisters. This gives Barry Eagan an astrological origin.
The Crash That Started It All:
Two things happen in the beginning of Punch Drunk Love. There is a horrible car crash and then a van screeches to a halt and drops a harmonium on the street. Barry Eagan is already in his suit as the movie begins and will wear the same suit for the rest of the movie. Superman always wears the same suit. Same colors, too. Barry wears a Superman blue suit and will eventually dawn a Superman red tie. The harmonium represents his fortress of solitude. You’ll notice that whenever Barry gets upset he retreats to his office to touch the little piano. The intense musical score even settles when Barry plays his music and gets a moment to relax. Superman colors are a major theme in this movie, as you’ll see whenever Barry hugs his girl. He’s in his blue suit and she’s wearing a red shirt. Before Barry wears the red tie, it’s his girlfriend’s shit color that completes the famous Super-Color-Combo.
Barry Eagan learns to fly in this movie. Through the Healthy Choice promo screw up, he’s able to collect so many frequent-flyer miles that he can fly anywhere on earth for the rest of his life. When we see Barry fly in this movie, he catches a plane from California to Hawaii. Just as Superman travels with no possessions when he takes flight, Barry carries no luggage and brings no accessories. He takes off in his blue and red suit and that’s all he’s got with him when he lands.
The following is a list of scenes in Punch Drunk Love where Barry Eagan demonstrates his super-strength.
1) While promoting a plunger to a potential client, Barry tells the client that he’s holding an unbreakable handle. He then smashes it to pieces on the counter.
2) At his sister’s birthday party, Barry gets angry and smashes three panes of glass. He uses two punches and one kick and breaks each pane in one hit.
3) Barry gets uncomfortable in a restaurant and he beats the crap out of the bathroom. He knocks a stall door off with one punch, then, he one-two kicks another door off its hinges and punches it while it’s in mid air. Then, he hilariously tries to get a grip on the spherical soap dispenser, which I also assume he breaks but we never see it.
4) Barry is on the phone and gets upset when he realizes he can’t instantly redeem his frequent-flyer miles. He turns and punches a map of the United States and seems to make a dent in the wall that the map caves into. Interesting detail about that scene: When he lays his near-broken hand down on the harmonium, the scars across his knuckles spell the word: Love. Love hurts. Heh.
5) Barry knocks the blond brother’s unconscious whenever he hits one of them in the face. If Barry Eagan punches you in the face, you’re down and you’re done.
I tried to figure out why someone based on Superman would call a phone sex line. It struck me that being such an outsider, Barry called just to have someone to talk to. For the entire conversation he makes no mention of sex or sexual things. He’s just there to chat. This is essential to the Superman plot, because that phone call leads him to face off against his villain nemesis. The bad guy’s got himself a super-villain name, too. Mattress Man, as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. In fact, when Barry finally does face off against Mattress Man, Hoffman is sitting in a chair getting his hair cut. When he stands up it looks as if he’s wearing a cape.
Every girl Superman has ever been interested in has had the initials: L.L. Barry Eagan falls in love with a girl named Leena Leonard. You’ll notice that the only time Barry stands up for himself is when someone innocent is being hurt. The Blond Brother’s ram into his car and Leena’s head starts bleeding. When someone is in trouble, Barry jumps in and saves the day. Still, everyone walks all over Barry and he let’s them. That’s heroic.
Finally, two things:
1) It’s interesting to me that Superman stands for concepts that have powerful key-words to represent them. These are words such as truth or honor. Two of these key words appear in the life of Barry Eagan. He keeps buying Healthy Choice pudding, and his favorite DJ is DJ Justice.
2) Superman has been said to be more powerful than a locomotive. Exactly six minutes into Punch Drunk Love, we can hear one whistling in the distance.