The Upside of Anger

The Upside of Anger is a 2005 American romantic comedy and 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 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$28,237,190[1]


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, Terry had told her daughters that she thought their father, Grey, had left the family to be with his former secretary in Sweden. After sharing the news with neighbor Denny, a retired baseball player turned radio talk-show host and fellow alcoholic, Terry progressively grows close to the man, with whom she eventually begins an intimate relationship.

Keen to help where he can, Denny helps Andy, one of Terry's daughters, to become a production assistant at the radio station where he works. There she meets and starts a relationship with Shep, Denny's producer, a questionable character in his 40s. Meanwhile, daughter Popeye, who is attending a private high school, finds herself attracted to a classmate, whose attention she fails to grab even after clearly declaring her interest to him (the classmate purports to be gay).

Another daughter, Emily's original wish to attend a performing arts school to study dancing is superseded by her mother's request that she pursue university studies, which she starts at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. A fourth daughter, Hadley, for her part, announces immediately following her graduation that she is engaged to her boyfriend of three years, and pregnant.

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 storms out of her house; the separation is only temporary, though, as the two reconcile a short while later.

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.

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 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 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 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

Awards won



  1. "The Upside of Anger". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  2. "The Upside of Anger (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
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