Anger Management

| April 14, 2003

The “Warnings” had been running for months. “Sandler! Nicholson! Anger Management!” They had been on shows together to promote, I even saw them sharing Jack’s court side seats at a Laker game (They killed the Celtics, by the way). Hype hype hype.
The only real question would be which actor would show up with the dominant game. Would 3-time Oscar winner Jack be able to inspire the idiotic Adam into the performance of his life? Would 1-time Oscar winner Marisa Tomei be able to show Adam how to act in a scene with a woman in some way other than the little kid all growed up who still had a few issues from childhood?
Sadly, no.
In a script that seemed to be written by several folks who all had their pet jokes to promote, Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a dumbass Yankee fan and administrative assistant who gives his boss all the best ideas and fails to step up to take the credit. To see this done most effectively, watch Thomas F. Wilson and Crispen Glover as Biff Tannen and George McFly in Back to the Future. To see it done ineffectively, watch Anger Management. The story begins when Buznik is on a plane and calmly asks for a headset in order to watch a movie. The stewardess (“that’s flight attendant”–wasn’t that funny? You’ll hear that joke three times in the movie–hope I didn’t give it away) is not helpful and as you see in the trailers (oops, meant Warnings), Buznik is subdued as an angry passenger and is subsequently charged and found guilty of attacking her.
He is sentenced to take an anger management program and is introduced to Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson). In order to not go to jail, he has to pass Dr. Rydell’s 30-day course in self-control.
The script must have read “Insert hilarity here.” The teenie-boppers in the audience read the part of the script that said “laugh here” and did. Those over the age of first date, first kiss, first girlfriend and sight of first naked breasts… did not. It was one lame attempt after another to make us laugh.
Actually, if it weren’t for Sandler, I may have liked the film more. Some other actor probably would have been a better hire, but Sandler produced this thing so I guess there wasn’t much chance of that. There were some excellent performances by Nicholson, Tomei (The Guru), and a bunch of movie veterans. Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers) is unbelievable in the double role of a Yankee Stadium security guard and a trans-sexual hooker. John C. Reilly (an Oscar nomination for Chicago) is fun as Buznik’s former childhood nemesis who’s now all grown up and become a monk. Harry Dean Stanton (Pretty in Pink, Repo Man) turns in a great cameo as a blind man who beats up Buznik in a bar. And Heather Graham (The Guru) plays Kendra… Wow. She shows up in a HOT bikini with the Boston Red Sox logo spread across her breasts. I have always found Graham to be attractive, but I am a lifelong fan of the bean town nine and her in that outfit made her all the more sexually attractive (note to self–get one of them outfits for Sharyn).
Sandler is falling into the Woody Allen habit of always playing the same character who lives in New York and has to overcome some adversity to become a winner. It’s so far past boring I can’t stand it. At least Allen does it with some intelligence. Sandler’s one-dimensional characters suck, the backdrop sucks and the Yankees suck, too. Always wanted to figure out how to get that personal feeling into a review.
Anger Management is kind of like most Saturday Night Live skits where they have a decent premise yet there is no good punch line to end the segment. Unfortunately, instead of rewriting it until its good, they throw it out there and then go right into the next lame scene.

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