Even though today’s entry is indeed an Adam Sandler picture, this one retains a little bit of value. At least with me it does. Until I am being overthrown by another writer on this blog, Sandler has a decent chance of me actually sticking up for his antics. . . just this one time. Whatever it is about this match-up, it works, and works well; though what comes out of this film is nothing unusual and nothing that wouldn’t sway opinion necessarily of the guy one way or another either, but somewhere in here there’s gold and it also qualifies as being ‘feel-good.’
Today’s food for thought: Anger Management.
Release: April 11, 2003
In this episode, Sandler gets tasered by an overzealous airline marshall, gets his ass kicked by a Buddhist monk, and finds out that his really cute girlfriend might have eyes for someone else. If this sounds to you like every other Sandler comedy ever made, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Thanks to Anger Management‘s casting director this film gets infinitely more interesting because of the pairing of another angry Sandler with an equally off-the-handle Jack Nicholson, as they star in this somewhat memorable comedy as Dave Buznik and Dr. Buddy Rydell, respectively.
After getting into a tussle with a flight attendant, Dave finds himself court-ordered to undergo several weeks of anger management/therapy. It is there that he runs across Dr. Rydell again — it’s the same man he sat with on the plane (who may or may not have started all of this). Making the mistake of assuming this guy is on his side leads Dave to think the therapy session will not only be easy to get through, but ultimately something he won’t have to endure. Unfortunately, things don’t go well during his first session and his temperament is revealed to everyone quickly. This is when Rydell recommends that the number of sessions should be doubled.
Under Rydell’s supervision, Dave finds his life becoming more and more oppressive. First he’s forced to partner up with the insufferable Chuck (John Turturro) and participate in some kind of demented buddy-system, wherein each person is meant to be able to vent frustration to someone outside of the class. Lucky for Dave, he’s been saddled with the worst of the worst. The two prove to be trainwreck waiting to happen, and indeed Dave snaps again at a bar, forcing Judge Daniels (Lynne Thigpen)’s gavel yet again. She demands that Mr. Buznik undergo intensified, round-the-clock therapy which would required Dr. Rydell to move in with him and completely overhaul his life.
As the movie goes on, Rydell steps up the ridiculousness with each of his lessons, requiring Dave to stop everything and anything that might trigger anger and even make audio notes of any progress he’s making. Apparently part of the treatment will also involve getting felt up by Woody Harrelson-as-transvestite:
Eventually Dave finds himself unable to tolerate the seeming injustices that are being done to him, as he doesn’t consider himself to be THAT angry of a person. He reaches his breaking point when Buddy suggests that Dave and his girlfriend (Marissa Tomei) take a break for awhile.
Anger Management is by no means a brilliant movie, but it suffices as a decent buddy-comedy that takes Sandler and Nicholson to some pretty funny places. It’s minor work for Jack, that’s for sure, but interestingly enough, Sandler becomes much more watchable when the two begin to really bump heads late in the film (literally and figuratively). Nicholson is clearly having a nice time collecting a paycheck and making up words like “gooze-frabba” and spouting out silly one-liners that seem to only enrage Sandler’s character.
The interplay between the two leads, along with some highlights from John C. Reilly, Harrelson, and Heather Graham works well enough to carry this film for an hour and forty-five minutes.
Recommendation: This won’t change the minds of anyone who’s already opposed to Adam Sandler’s school of comedy but at the same time, it’s not like this is Sandler at his most obnoxious, either. (We might leave that distinction up for grabs among his more dismal failures Jack & Jill, Zohan and That’s My Boy.) However, if you do buy into the fact that Sandler just likes to have a good time on-set — this must have been a real treat for him getting to work alongside a legend like Jack — and make movies about the good times he and his Hollywood friends share, Anger Management is a good one to pick up and talk over for half the time. Sometimes films are best watched half-heartedly.
Running Time: 106 mins.
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