Anger Management Review

Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) is a mild-mannered guy. Or so he thinks. Then one day a misunderstanding on a plane gets out of control, and Dave winds up in court. The judge (the late Lynne Thigpen, to whom this film is dedicated) orders Dave to attend anger management therapy, run by Dr Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson). Buddy's treatment is less than conventional: soon he's moved into Dave's apartment and is coming on to Dave's girlfriend Linda (Marisa Tomei)...

Adam Sandler has often shown a barely-suppressed rage in past roles, as has Nicholson, so pairing them in a film called Anger Management would seem to be High Concept Heaven. However, this Anger Management is simply too formulaic for its own good, and what might have been edgy black comedy – and admittedly probably less commercial – comes over as simply mean-spirited. It also obeys the rule of thumb that a mainstream Hollywood comedy will be overlong by the amount its running time exceeds 90 minutes. As the film goes on, it becomes more and more predictable, with an attempt at a big climax that's purest cliché.

There are good things in this film. Don McAlpine's Scope camerawork is easy on the eye, and holds the film together better than the direction does. Luis Guzman and John Turturro are good value in their smallish roles as fellow Rydell patients, flaming Latino queen and short-fused psycho respectively. On the other hand, Woody Harrelson's turn as a German-accented transvestite hooker is simply bizarre. Amongst the credited cameos, John McEnroe's is the most amusing. Uncredited are John C. Reilly as Dave's childhood friend turned Hare Krishna, and Heather Graham in a particularly degrading role. Of the leads, Tomei is underused in a bland girlfriend part and Nicholson is coasting here.

Ultimately, Anger Management is a watchable timepasser, particularly for fans of Sandler.(I'm not one, The Wedding Singer and Punch-Drunk Love notwithstanding.) But it's not as sharp or as funny as it might have been.



out of 10

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