Review: Anger Management

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  April 11, 2003 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

One of Hollywood's most respected actors squares off against one of comedies biggest talents for a little therapy.

Adam Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a reserved and belittled executive assistant who meets Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson) on an airplane. No matter what Dave does, he can't relax and enjoy the flight. He is ignored by the flight attendant and Dr. Buddy begins to irritate him.

Trying to remain calm and reserved, Dave watches as a little situation on board explodes into an incident. Dave ends up in court for supposedly assaulting a flight attendant. Dave is sentenced to under-go "anger-management" therapy, but much to his dismay it ends up that Dr. Buddy is his therapist. If Dave is to stay away from a prison sentence he has to put up with the annoying and eccentric Buddy Rydell 24-7. How will Dave escape Buddy's clutches? Is there some hidden meaning and actual therapy within Buddy's eccentric behavior? Can Dave also hang onto the woman he loves through this ordeal?

Anger Management is like a lot of comedies today. There are pinnacles where the comedy may make you fall out of your chair and at other times bore you to tears. The trend in comedies today seems to be primarily focused on the "comedic setup" and not on telling a story or making us remember the whole film. Comedy writers don't seem to know how to keep the hi-jinx and hilarity coming anymore. Anger Management is a perfect example of that trend at its finest.

Anger Management's other problem lies in what it does with supporting characters. There are hardly any here unless they are cameos or tools to keep the film going. Dave's girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei, is a perfect example of that. The film could have used her more intelligently if she and Dave had been living together already. There could have been a lot more jokes involving her. This would have also made the film's ending a lot more plausible.

I really enjoyed the monastery scene, screeching to a halt on the bridge, and the Heather Graham cameo, but for the most part I felt the film focused too much on Sandler and Nicholson. The writers could have learned a couple tricks by watching a couple John Hughes comedies like Planes, Trains & Automobiles and The Great Outdoors. In each of those films, there is a square-off between two men but their supporting characters aid the progress of the film and they aren't used just as a tool. The Hughes comedies knew how much time there should be between the big laughs.

It's safe to day that Sandler's best film is still Happy Gilmore and that Nicholson was a lot funnier in As Good as it Gets. (3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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