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Anger Management

Starring Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson
Screenplay by David Dorfman
Directed by Peter Segal

IN SHORT: Lame comedy redeemed only by double barelled star power. [Rated PG-13 for Crude Sexual Content and Language. minutes]

Adam Sandler. Jack Nicholson. Both have demonstrated time and time again the ability to perform as characters who go totally ballistic.The former usually does comedies but tosses the occasional dramatic curve at us. The latter is probably the finest American, if not human, actor on the planet. One makes teens and an occasional adult bust a gut. The other can make us laugh as well but he does it with a self-satisfied smirk. Ah, the anticipation of the pair, on screen, as comedic adversaries. The decision not to indulge in the super-sized combo, lest we find ourselves sitting in a puddle at movie's end . . .

Ah, the disappointment of the finished product. The basic idea -- passive guy with a misperceived anger problem is taught to control himself by a professional lunatic -- is a good one. The film, Anger Management, doesn't push itself to the limit. It's not a bad sit. It's just not what we anticipated. That being said, it doesn't matter what we say for it's first weekend release, whose box office numbers will redefine the word "destructive" as an adjective. Anticipation will be a killer in all senses of the word as it leads you into an in-depth exploration of the stages of Anger. There's "explosive" anger -- kinda like when you lock your keys in the car and just happen to have a baseball bat in your hand as yer only recourse. And then there's implosive anger -- kinda like those stories you hear about the guys who like to climb to the top of water towers with high powered rifles slung over their shoulders.

Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) is that kind; the implosive anger-ish kinda guy. Dave's yer average meek, mild normalguy who dresses up fat pussy cats and taking pictures of 'em, for a living. As gay as that sounds, no, Dave's not gay but he does get to travel.

That last sentence makes as much sense as half the jokes in this thing. Anyhow, during one of these jaunts Dave gets on to plane late and doesn't ask the stewardess to boot the lout sitting in his assigned seat. 'Cuz he's meek and mild, y'see. He plants in the only desirable seat in the plane, right next to famed author Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson). Dave will come to regret that meeting, which will get him in trouble with the plane's crew and, before he can blink, hauled up in front of a magistrate on assault charges. It's a weak set of jokes that gets you to the main event and, thankfully, none of those weak jokes are in the television commercials which strip mine the rest of the flick. Judge Daniels (Lynne Thigpen) sends Dave to an anger management class run by Buddy. There he meets fellow rageaholics gay Lou (Luis Guzman), Chuck the guido (John Turturro), pornstars Gina and Stacy who are into dominance and staplers and is reacquainted with Mr. Rydell. More weak jokes. yadda yadda another court date and Dave finds himself with full time roommate Buddy, who has promised the Court to apply his "unorthodox" anger control techniques to our budding psycho.

OK, now it's meat and potatoes time. "Doctor" Rydell's unorthodox accessories after the fact include one cross dressing prostitute named Galaxia (Woody Harrelson) who will teach Dave how to "communicate"; a random pickup at a Boston bar -- the very lovely Kendra (Heather Graham) and a reunion with childhood bully Arnie Shankman (John C. Reilly) who made our hero into the mouse that he is today. At the end of the tunnel is the also lovely Linda (Marisa Tomei), who Dave was going to propose to . . . until he met Buddy.

Can Dave kiss his middle class, generally normal life goodbye? Do ya think the guy is going to be pushed over the edge? Ain't ya sitting on the edge of yer seat waitin' fer it to happen? Wouldn't life be great if the film could sneak in a lot of surprise cameos by famous politicos and athletes? Have you ever cooked spaghetti by throwing it at the wall or wondered why Cranky is writin' in a New York blue collar accent?

It's 'cuz we've got space to fill and there are far too few extra jokes in David Dorfman's script to give any of 'em away. As for the spaghetti, that's a classic New York learned at the lap of grandma style of cooking reference. If it's undercooked, it won't stick. If it's cooked right it, like the jokes that finally occupy your time and space while watching Anger Management, sticks. We sat in our seat, feet sticking to the floor of the beat up ol' theater, wrist deep in that golden goop that tries to pass itself off as buttery-style popcorn topping genially chucking at what passed for humor on the screen -- all of which was fully deserving of genial chuckles but could have delivered so much more -- and waited for the inevitable explosion that Adam Sandler is notorious for.

What we got was a lameoid "supporting character explains it all to you" resolution which wraps the story up in a nice little bow, just like all the books that tell you how to write screenplays tell you to do. That's crap folks, but we weren't planted for the set up or the cool down crap. We planted for the confluence of comic vision and its anticipated nuclear result. There's a whopper of a fart joke in there somewhere but other than that, everything is way too genial. The stuff that isn't genial is all the material that's been pulled for the aforementioned television commercial. We hope you weren't playing much attention beyond "Sandler. Nicholson. Together At Last!"

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Anger Management, he would have paid . . .


Take a date. You may only get have a ticket's price worth of entertainment but paired up, there's still enough stuff to entertain and set the stage for after-theater festivities. Failing that, Gina and Stacey's escort company phone numbers may be buried in the end titles. In certain theaters. If you're lucky. .

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.