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"Anger Management"

Directed by Peter Segal ("Tommy Boy").
Written by David Dorfman.
Starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  4/23/03


So, I went over to the local moviehouse and caught “Anger Management” the other night.  Got to the theater early, made a couple of phone calls, stretched out, then the lights went down.  They showed a preview for “Bruce Almighty” (doesn’t look bad), “Daddy Day Care” (same), and a couple other comedies.  Then, got the obligatory “X2” preview--man, talk about overexposure!  Then, they did it...

For the first time--this coming from a man who at week’s end will have already seen 40 films this year--I saw the trailer for “The Matrix Reloaded” in the theater.  Oh sweet Jesus.  By the time all of the bullets had fallen, by the time the music had stopped, by the time those twins in white suits stopped flying around the screen, by the time Jada Pinkett Smith put her guns, I was sweating!  Funnier than that, though?  The other men sitting around me (this was, of course, a Sandler film) were all audibly shocked by what they had just seen.  So damned cool.

This is important because even after the trailer ended, I was only really half in the theater, because my mind was off on what I was going to do the day Keanu and Friends open up.  Skip work?  Camp out at the theater?  Sure, I’ve already got tickets, but I’ve got to ensure that I’ve got a good seat!  Meanwhile, “Anger Management” had already begun, so I kind of only half-picked up what was happening by the time down-on-his-luck nice guy Dave Buznik (Sandler) was in court for allegedly shoving a flight attendant (or is it “stewardess”?).  From there, I picked up what little story there was quite easily, as anger therapist Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson) tries to curb Dave’s slight problems with his temper by moving in with him and monitoring his every move.

I know that many of you e-mailed me to tell me just how dogshitty this film was, but as harsh as I normally am with Sandler films (“Mr. Deeds” was horrendous), I must say that “Anger Management” did have a fair number of great jokes.  This was normally because of the Nicholson character or reactions to his insanity; Sandler’s mostly-straight man has some good commentary in response to the doctor’s tricks and wily antics.  Nicholson is really great here; his money shot, as he eggs Dave on to flirt with a woman in a red dress (cameo by Heather Graham), is fantastic as he nods up and down in slow-motion with that grin that is unmistakably JACK.  The cameos in this film are a laundry list; save for a wasted effort by where-the-hell-have-you-been Woody Harrelson, almost all of the cameos are hilarious, including saving grace John Turturro as a Jewish former soldier that loves watching bisexuals hook up in his anger management class.  Turturro single-handedly saved “Mr. Deeds” from Hard Vice territory, and here his relief is once again welcome.  Luis Guzman, John McEnroe, Kevin Nealon and others add a little punch at every turn.

Sure, the story is ridiculous, and as my friend Beth correctly pointed out, “Anger Management” really needs one or two scenes where the Sandler character just totally loses it...and, they never come.  Marisa Tomei, as Dave’s girlfriend Linda, loves the guy...but, it’s not quite clear to me why.  There was a problem that I had with the ending, or rather, the way the whole thing came to fruition in the first place, and that just made me frustrated--I can’t explain it without giving it away, but I found it to be even more of a stretch than I’m used to in a Sandler film.  And, even with a drama like “Punch Drunk Love”, Sandler has played this character about, oh, a dozen times in his dozen or so films, so when will he try something different?

Hey, not bad as an afternoon show.  If anything, the trailers made “Anger Management” gravy for me.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09