If you mix Adam Sandler, doing his new PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE reserved shtick that
audiences hated but critics loved, with a hammy Jack Nicholson, would it still
be just another bad Sandler comedy? Yes.
In ANGER MANAGEMENT, directed by Peter Segal (NUTTY PROFESSOR II), Sandler plays
Dave Buznik, a mild mannered guy whom others guys run over. Through a series of
bizarre mistakes, Dave finds himself about to be thrown in jail for multiple
assaults. His guardian angel, one Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), shows up
in court to get Dave paroled into his care for thirty days of intensive anger
management therapy. Buddy is a quack who has more personal anger management
problems than Dave ever dreamed of. (I had my own anger management issues to
deal with during the screening when it took two complaints to get the house
lights finally turned off.)
Buddy treats his patients by forcing them to experience extreme anger and then
teaching them how to deal with it. Buddy makes Dave share a bed with him --
Buddy sleeps in the nude and likes to cuddle when asleep -- and requires him to
endure a come-on by a transvestite prostitute in the back of a car.
The movie uses the clich‚s found in bad slapstick from bathroom humor to a food
fight. Although some of the jokes work, most don't provoke any reaction. The
most enjoyable part of the picture turns out to be a long series of cameos, with
the best being one by ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The key to the film's
lack of success is that the basic premise for the plot is never made plausible.
Comedy needs a modicum of believability if it is to work, and little of ANGER
MANAGEMENT rings true. In a wasted performance, Marisa Tomei is cute as ever
but the sparks between her and Dave, her supposed boyfriend, are as non-existent
as a campfire in a downpour.
I will give the movie this. It does know how to end well.
ANGER MANAGEMENT runs a little long at 1:41. It is rated PG-13 for "crude
sexual content and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, almost 14, thought the film was very funny and gave it ***. He
liked the acting, the plot and all of the twists.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes