Anger Management Review
Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) is a mild-mannered man who gets incredibly annoyed but bottles up his fury. One day, after several unfortunate coincidences, he finds himself having to choose between going to jail and enrolling in an anger management course run by the infamous Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), an exasperating man with a short temper and a bizarre sense of humour. With these two comedy heavyweights paired together, hilarity will ensue... In theory, at least.
I guess how much enjoyment you can get out of the movie will depend on how big a fan you are of Adam Sandler and/or Jack Nicholson. Personally, I find Nicholson quite watchable normally, but I am not particularly enamoured to Sandler. I usually find his humour irritating and not particularly funny. This film is no exception, and although Nicholson is supposed to be the annoying one, I spent most of the time being more aggravated by Sandler. He spends most of the film with only one facial expression, and it is not a very expressive one. Besides Nicholson, who occasionally raises a smile (though usually through being completelty over-the-top rather than actually being genuinely clever), none of the other main stars make any lasting impressions, with Marisa Tomei doing her bit as the token "nice" girlfriend and Kurt Fuller doing his bit as the stereotypical "nasty" boss. Oh, and Heather Graham gets an almost amusing but completely inconsequential cameo, but that's it.
There are a couple of successful scenes, one of which involves a trip to a Buddhist sanctuary, and another involving a lesbian couple (one of whom is played by January Jones from American Wedding) explaining why they are attending anger management, but in general the film's attempts at humour fall rather flat - truly a bad sign for a comedy. It doesn't help that the pace is plodding and seems mainly to be attempting to pass off certain situations and characters as inherently funny rather than actually making an effort to create any real comedy out of them. The film is surprisingly boring in a way that I didn't think was possible, and I spent most of the time watching it in a catatonic state, glancing at my watch every so often. At over 100 minutes, this movie is way too long. Possibly, if it had been a bit shorter, I would have felt more positive about it, but I'm not promising anything. Worse still, the film eventually falls into a loop that has nothing to do other than ask audiences to question whether or not Nicholson's character is actually out to ruin Sandler's life. Oh, and the ending is a giant cliché that can be seen coming a mile away. I won't spoil it, though.
Really, Anger Management represents all the worst elements of the Hollywood movie industry. The plot is clichéd and mundane, the direction pedestrian, and it attempts to sell itself simply based on the names of the main stars and on appearances by some celebrities (former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani even pointlessly shows up in one scene). The film's real saving grace is the nice camerawork by Donald M. McAlpine. Shot in 2.35:1 (an aspect ratio that a surprising number of character-driven comedies seem to be using these days), the look of the film, for all its crudities and lackadaisical plotting and humour, is polished and well-composed.
Anger Management is by no means a horrible film, but it is so completely mediocre in every way that you have nothing to either gain or lose by watching it. Hard-core fans of either Adam Sandler or Jack Nicholson may find something to enjoy here, but in reality this is an incredibly watered-down performance, with neither actor coming close to what they are capable of.
Presented anamorphically in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the transfer is very good indeed. Detail levels are great, and the contrasts are suitably solid. The colour palette is quite dull, but not unnaturally so. There are no obvious problems with unnecessary filtering or noise reduction, and no compression artifacts are visible. The only thing that prevents this transfer from getting full marks is some mild, but constant, edge enhancement. I suspect that on small and average TVs it will not be visible, but it was quite noticeable on both my 19" PC monitor and my 38" widescreen TV.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is acceptable but unimpressive. Admittedly, a character-based comedy does not require much in the way of split-channel effects or active bass, so I wasn't expecting any different. The dialogue is always clear and intelligible, which is the main thing with a film like this, so overall the audio does just fine - just don't expect to be using it to show off your new surround setup.
The menu is absolutely fine, mostly. It has some amusing animation and sound effects to liven it up a bit, although unfortunately many of the transitions between menus cannot be skipped.
When you first play the movie a Dolby Digital trailer (skippable) runs, as well as a copyright warning and a disclaimer that the opinions expressed in the commentary and extras are those of the individuals and not the company. (Oddly enough it plays regardless of whether or not you have selected to listen to the commentary.)
Commentary - Okay, get this: the commentary track is actually funnier than the movie itself. Adam Sandler joins director Peter Segal (so that "people will actually listen to the commentary", in Segal's words), and they plow through the movie, commenting on and making fun of what's going on. At times they do fall into the trap of simply describing what's happening on-screen, and Segal says "god bless them" a little too often, but overall this is a pretty good commentary.
Do you have anger problems? - This is an amusing enough interactive game that lets you choose the way you would be most likely to react to certain situations. It is pretty clear which option you have to select in order to progress to the next section, but it's all in good fun. The questions are hosted by various members of the cast and crew, including Peter Segal, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei and January Jones.
Deleted scenes - Four scenes are included, most of them quite lengthy. While none of them are side-splittingly funny, they are no worse than the material that made it into the final cut.
Skull session - A decent enough 17-minute overview of the making of the film, from beginning to end, featuring contributions from all the major cast and crew.
My buddy, Jack - A four-minute featurette in which everyone crawls up Jack Nicholson's butt. This is basically just everyone raving about Nicholson, and it can be a little grating to watch.
Blooper reel - A rather unfunny blooper reel that focuses mainly on scatological humour and runs for a little over 5 minutes.
Trailers - The trailer for Anger Management is provided, along with trailers for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Daddy Day Care, I Spy and National Security.
This is actually a pretty reasonable assembly of extras, especially considering how lightweight the film itself is. I can't honestly say I can think of anything else they could have included here.
A mediocre movie gets an above-average DVD release. If you are a fan of the film, the DVD presentation will not disappoint you, but otherwise I can think of no reason for anyone to trouble themselves with this release, given how many superior comedies are available. Anger Management is not bad, it's just tolerable.