Anger Management

The last time a movie used West Side Story's "I Feel Pretty" was Analyze That, and everybody knows how that film turned out. Anger Management is much the same. It's an Adam Sandler movie, so that should immediately be a sign to viewers to expect the same character, jokes, and story structure of almost every other Sandler movie. This time, Sandler (The Hot Chick, 8 Crazy Nights) is Dave Buznik, who is basically a nice guy, kind of withdrawn and shy, but with a huge streak of violence lurking just beneath the surface. And, like every other Sandler movie there is a beautiful girl and stupid jokes.

Things take a turn for the worse for Dave when he is sentenced to anger management therapy after a misunderstanding on a plane. He was accused of assaulting a flight attendant (not stewardess) after his seatmate goaded him. Now, he finds that his anger management therapist, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt, The Pledge) is the same man who was sitting next to him. Oh the irony! The misunderstandings continue, and Rydell ends up living with Buznik for some intensive therapy. If Buznik fails, he will go to jail. This is the thin premise that keeps the two together for the duration of the movie.

The whole joke in David Dorfman's screenplay is that Buznik isn't sure if Rydell is really good or really insane. He keeps doing oddball things that only anger Buznik or make him look bizarre. Yet, his strange therapy techniques seem to work, because Buznik is truly an angry person. The quick prologue shows that a childhood bully humiliated him in front of the neighborhood, and he's been a pushover ever since. So Rydell is either helping Buznik or just pissing him off. His girlfriend Linda (Marisa Tomei, The Wild Thornberry's Movie, The Guru) loves him but is beginning to tire of his timidity, all the while her ex-boyfriend lurks in the background like a vulture.

Oddly enough, Nicholson is the best thing about the movie, and not in a good way. Watching him overact and embody nearly every exaggerated stereotype given him at some point or another is surreal. Director Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, My Fellow Americans) is lazy by rely on Nicholson acting weird instead of anything else. To make up for a lack of meaningful story, he has a never-ending parade of cameos by actors and other celebrities. And through it all, Adam Sandler is slowly becoming a better actor. After an amazing performance in Punch-Drunk Love, he slipped back into familiar territory. Nevertheless, his characters, while similar, are slowly changing. The weird vocal inflections and random violence are decreasing, and he's becoming more human. At this rate, he may be watchable soon.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content and language.

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