Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzmán
Runtime: 106 minutes
Jack Nicholson. The man is a legend. The films, the lifestyle, the reputation. He’s getting on a bit, though, so it’s time for a change. Comedy. About Schmidt was pretty good. Before that, umm, Mars Attacks!. It’s been a while. Adam Sandler earned mixed reviews in Punch-Drunk Love, but is still a gurning monkey.
Jack is Dr. Buddy Rydell, the therapist assigned to treat Dave Buznik’s (Sandler) Toxic Anger Syndrome. But Dave isn’t angry. He’s happy with his job (designing clothes for obese cats), his girl (Marisa Tomei), his shabby-chic New York penthouse apartment. He got a bit tense, once, on a plane, when the ditzy stewardess was too busy gossiping to bring him some headphones. She summoned the security guard; the court ordered Dave to take anger management classes. Enter Jack with beret and beard.
Dr Buddy’s unorthodox method is to provoke Dave until he snaps, changing him from a calm, content ‘implosive’ person to an ‘explosive’ ball of fury. Given the western world’s obsession with psychobabble it’s almost plausible. Buddy moves in with Dave, Buddy likes to sleep naked (next to Dave), Buddy thinks Dave is homophobic so he arranges a chat with a German she-male hooker from the village of Likkenzedikken.
Luis Guzmán, John Turturro and Heather Graham are fantastic (as ever) but limited (as ever) by clichéd, peripheral roles. The numerous cameos are so unfunny they’re funny. There are plenty of laughs, moments of slapstick genius – a Buddhist monk gets a wedgie – and some wonderful facial hair.
Anger Management belongs to a new genre of filmmaking. The ‘I Heart NY Now More Than Ever’ schlock-blockbuster. The air marshal on the plane, too many shots of US flags. The pathological national fear of quiet, seemingly unemotional people: hibernating serial killers, apparently. Sandler is the productive employee and enamoured boyfriend, Tomei the pretty, baseball-loving girl, Nicholson the reformed hellraiser. A cinematic declaration of love for the Yankees, hotdogs and ass jokes is scant replacement for what could have been a witty critique of political hypochondria.
The film has a convoluted plot, more acting talent than it knows what to do with, and ultimately resorts to the lowest common denominator principles of no-brainer cinema. Baseball and wedgies. A short, camp Hispanic man with a comedy beard, an incestuous redneck, lesbian porn stars. Jack’s eyebrows. Anger Management is a politically correct film about political correctness. Oh dear.