Previously Peter Segal introduced us to Nutty Professor II and The Final Insult of the Naked Gun series. Jack Nicholson needs no introduction in these pages his films at times legendary, Easy Rider, Chinatown and The Shining to name but a few. Adam Sandler's the newish kid on the block rising from the fame of Saturday Night Live to star and write some gentile comedies such as Little Nicky and The Waterboy amongst others. It's an interesting menage et trois to say the least so I was happy enough to see where this would go.
Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) had a tormented childhood, bullied and generally ridiculed. This has left him scarred to the degree he can't kiss his girlfriend in public, nor can he stand up for what is rightfully his; constantly missing on those promotion opportunities. On an internal flight he's arrested for abusing the stewardess. This abuse merely consists of touching her arm when asking for a headset. Ultimately he's sentenced to 30 days anger management consultation and in walks Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson).
Rather than calming down poor abused Buznik, Dr. Buddy makes his life hell. Teaming him up with a mentally unstable war veteran (John Turturro), forcing confessions out of him in class, moving into his apartment, smashing plates and ultimately taking Linda (Marisa Tomei) the girl he loves to dinner.
From the outset I was expecting another self depreciating comedy from Sandler and this is exactly what we get. In small doses this can be an enjoyable enough way to spend a couple of hours. After a while though it grates somewhat and I think this self debasement comedy should really take some time out and let something a little fresher compete for our hard earned cash. We've seen it all before from Sandler specifically and this adds nothing new to his seemingly limited repertoire. It was interesting to see Jack grace our screens again though but even he is wasted in this going nowhere feature. Without a doubt he does have some of the best lines and scenes in the film, barring Woody Harrelson and John C Reilly perhaps, but even in these moments there's just not enough funny bone material in the actual scripts to make this anywhere near an enjoyable, entertaining, laugh out loud comedy.
It is the writing which leaves nothing for the actors to work with or bounce off. It mentions in the script that Nicholson especially ad libbed many of his lines and you can perhaps see why; the original material really isn't up to much. In the whole 105 minutes I think a chuckle almost stretched my lips three or four times and that's really not very good value for money for a comedy. Sandler's character we've seen all too often before and if you're going to go loser then you can't beat the home grown talent of say Steve Coogan and one of his on screen persona, Alan Partridge.
Sundry actors however are superb with the limited resources available to them and the ever reliable John Turturro producing an excellent wayward ex veteran, more interested in the stories of the lesbian lovers in his anger management group than any recovery he might be capable of. When he's on screen you can always expect something worthwhile and perhaps even above Nicholson he takes the best out of this film. Whenever he walked on set I was glad, hoping to see some of the brilliance he's more than capable of; apart from his manic face and sometimes intriguing dialogue even he couldn't turn this damp squib round.
Ultimately as cameo after cameo appear on screen I found myself not really watching or engaging with the storyline but waiting to see who else pops up throughout Anger Management and there's a few. John McEnroe's in the anger class for obvious reasons and his scenes are would you believe it or not a shouting match to determine whether he should be out or in; god it's funny stuff. Heather Graham appears, stunningly attractive as she always appears to be but she has her own issues thinking that she's overweight and no man would find her attractive. Ruddy Giulani appearing as himself at a baseball game egging on our main character, the complex Harry Dean Stanton as a blind man involved in a fight but surely kudos must go to John Reilly as the bully turned Buddhist and Woody Harrelson as the transvestite hooker Galaxina. These two scenes are perhaps the best part in the movie and thanks must go to these two actors for making at least some of this movie enjoyable.
Unfortunately though there's not much more I can say about Anger Management and perhaps that's it's greatest damnation; it just doesn't leave you with anything, nothing to talk about or recommend to friends. I have no doubt that lovers of Sandler will find this amusing, perhaps even more than mildly. For the majority of people out there though I would say by all means try it on a rental if you've nothing lined up over the weekend but seriously there are much better options out there for you to have a good giggle at.
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