Review by Gordon Justesen
Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, Woody Harrelson, John
Director: Peter Segal
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: September 16, 2003
“I want you to go over there and ask that woman
“No, I got a girlfriend.”
“I’m not telling you to elope with her, Dave.
Just go over there and flirt a little bit.”
“Flirting is cheating’s ugly cousin, Buddy.
I’m not a cheater.”
“Is it considered cheating if you were passed
around the cell block like a peace pipe? Because that is what’s on the docket
for you if you don’t go over there and ask her out.”
If you’ve seen
any of the trailers for Anger Management,
but are wondering if the movie is as funny as it promises to be, I’m happy to
report that it is, and then some. First off, the notion of Adam Sandler and Jack
Nicholson appearing in the same movie has to be seen, since they come across as
the least likely actors to ever appear by one another’s side. Thanks to a
pitch-perfect comedy premise, the funny and zany Sandler and the maddeningly
intense Nicholson are brought together in a movie that allows each actor to do
what he does best.
In a plot that
works in a dark and distinct manner, Adam Sandler plays Dave Buznik, an everyday
businessman who happens to be shy when it comes to display any public emotion.
This was caused by an embarrassing incident that happened when Dave was a kid.
While on a business trip, Dave is mistakenly accused of losing his temper to a
flight attendant, whom he is somehow later accused of assaulting. Even though
Dave knows he’s innocent, the court immediately finds him guilty, and orders
him to undergo anger management therapy.
Enter Dr. Buddy
Rydell (Nicholson), Dave’s assigned therapist who carries out very
non-traditional forms of therapy. Dave insists to Dr. Rydell that he has no
anger problem whatsoever, and when he finds himself in a group therapy meeting
with a basketball maniac, a pair of crazed lesbian lovers, and a plain-old
psycho veteran of Grenada, Dave knows he doesn’t belong there. However, the
doctor’s unique methods test Dave in a strange way, and at times result in
Dave pretty much doing what he was wrongfully accused of in the first place.
Before long, Rydell
assigns Dave a personal anger ally (John Turturro), and his whirlwind of
misunderstanding, coincidental trouble seems to escalate from there, resulting
in a barroom brawl where Dave is afterward accused of attacking a waitress and a
blind man, when in fact he was trying to break up the brawl, which was started
by the blind man.
Dave is in dire need of strict therapy, Dr. Rydell moves into his apartment,
shares the man’s bed, and insists that he supervises Dave’s every doing
during his daily routine. This means he must be at Dave’s side while he’s at
work, or even in the company of his fiancée, Linda (Marisa Tomei). The therapy
may be more than it was cracked up to be when Dave soon suspects the doctor of
possibly trying to lure his woman away from him.
Often in comedies,
plot scenarios in which characters become caught up in incidents of pure
misunderstanding seem to wear thin instantly. Not with Anger Management, which somehow structures the familiar formula in
the right way. It places Sandler’s character in one bizarre situation, and
escalates from that point in a madly funny way. The supreme joy of the movie is
watching Nicholson, in perhaps his most insanely funny performance since Batman,
toy with Sandler’s limited patience in the most embarrassing of situations,
the highlight of which is demanding that Dave sing “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story while in morning NYC traffic.
The movie’s only
weakness comes near the end, which forces Sandler’s character to delve into an
emotional speech in order to win the love of his life back. At the same time,
this scene ends up concluding on an ironic note, but it just felt to me that the
makers of the movie were relying on the sentimental that concludes in nearly
every Sandler movie. It was what killed his Mr. Deeds for me.
That aside, Anger
Management is easily one of Adam Sandler’s funniest comedies to date.
After delivering a remarkable revelation in Punch-Drunk
Love, Sandler rightfully returns to his trademark roots. And unlike his
usual fare, Sandler’s performance isn’t one-note, and comes across as his
one of his more satisfying performances. In fact, his character is very much
like Barry Egan in P.D.L., but in a
more conventional fashion.
As for Nicholson,
this performance is something of a revelation. He won’t win any awards for it,
but fans of the legendary actor will no doubt react with shrieking laughter when
they here some of the unforgettably funny lines, which I will savor for you to
hear. Jack is known for letting it all out in almost all of his performances,
and his on-screen insanity has never been more extreme than in this movie.
I can easily say
that Anger Management is close to
being the funniest film of this year, alongside killer laugh fests Head
of State and Malibu’s Most Wanted. 2003 has seen more flat comedies than funny
ones. The biggest laughs, believe it or not, have been in action fare like Bad
Boys II and Hollywood Homicide. But in terms of straight laced comedy, Anger
Management hits the mark for insane, endless laughs.
BONUS TRIVIA: There
are countless cameos in the film, with Heather Graham, Rudy Giuliani, and Bobby
Knight, to name a few.
Columbia Tri Star
has been on quite a roll this year in terms of all around quality of discs. Anger
Management is yet another solid release that can be added to the list of
terrific discs that include Identity,
Tears of the Sun, and Punch-Drunk Love.
The anamorphic picture is as every bit as sharp and clear as we’ve come to
expect from CTS, and colors are as vibrant as can possibly be. Comedies are
rarely shot in scope format, but this movie is fortunate to have that bonus,
because it results in a much lively picture. A full screen version is also
The 5.1 mix
demonstrates that even comedies can get the grandest of audio treatments. The
presentation manages to make the most of its locations and set pieces, and allow
nearly all the moments of physical comedy to be played out in a strong form.
Dialogue is consistently clear and the frequent music playbacks get a nice
enough boost, as well.
CTS does it again
with yet another wonderful package of extras. To start off, there is a
commentary track with Adam Sandler and director Peter Segal, two featurettes;
“Skull Session” and “My Buddy, Jack”, an interactive game called “Do
You Have Anger Problems?” Also featured are deleted scenes, a blooper reel, a
trailer, and bonus trailers for As Good As
it Gets, Eight Crazy Nights, Hollywood Homicide, Mona Lisa Smile, Mr. Deeds,
Radio, S.W.A.T., and Peter Pan.