Anger Management (2003)

Adam Sandler as Dave Buznik in Anger Management

More Anger from Sandler

When "Anger Management" hit the big screens back in 2003, I thoroughly enjoyed it, with it being filled with Sandler's crude and childish humour whilst also starring Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson. But having recently re-watched it, I have to admit that although "Anger Management" still made me laugh in a few places I was slightly disappointed. This was down to the repetitive humour, absurd plot line and to be completely honest, Adam Sandler doing the same sort of thing he does in 90% of his movies, although a little less obnoxious than usual.

After a huge misunderstanding during a flight results in mild-mannered business man Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler - Big Daddy) pulled up in front of a judge accused of hostile behaviour. He is given the choice of spending a year in jail or undertakes an anger management programme under the supervision of Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson - As Good as It Gets). Opting for the latter, he soon discovers that Rydell's treatments are rather unorthodox, especially when the good doctor moves into Dave's flat and starts taking over his life.

Jack Nicholson as Dr. Buddy Rydell in Anger Management

Despite the plot line being absurd, "Anger Management" does have the advantage of being pretty original which makes a refreshing change from a lot of comedies. But it is let down by the fact that the script writers put too much emphasis on trying to make it funny, resulting in them dumbing down a pretty decent idea. It really starts to falter right from the start with a prologue set in the late 70s which sees the young Dave Buznik being a victim of bullying and suffering public humiliation, which is followed by a jump to the present where we see Buznik arrested for the supposedly hostile behaviour on the plane. Whilst I am all in favour of building up history and character depth, this set of scenes lasts about 30 minutes and seriously drags whilst not really building up any real depth.

I wish I could say that the problems with "Anger Management" ended at this point, but sadly they don't and whilst the script writers have filled the remaining film with classic Sandler comedy and crudeness, they have failed to make it more than just a one gag movie. The gag being that the unorthodox and intrusive therapy which Dr. Rydell inflicts on Buznik causes him to become even more hostile, resulting in him losing his temper over and over again. Although this does allow for a few humorous scenes, most notably one where the unorthodox therapy means that the Dr. Rydell moves in with Buznik to the extent that they share the same bed, for the most this results in a lot of repetitive humour, several hissy fits from both characters and a steady descent into absurdity. Even the inclusion of a somewhat surprising twist fails to really raise any real interest as it is more absurd than the main storyline itself.

Despite the poor plot, Adam Sandler does fill "Anger Management" with what he does best, that is makes crude jokes and generally shouts a lot. Whilst his sort of humour obviously has a strong fan base, which when he first burst onto the scene I counted myself one of, it has now become as boring as the repetitiveness of the humour in this movie. The only difference between the character of Dave Buznik and Sandler's usual obnoxious characters, is that you actually feel a touch, and I mean a touch, of sympathy for him, as he seems to have been a victim of a huge misunderstanding.

Whilst Sandler obviously has a strong fan base amongst the younger generation, the casting of Jack Nicholson seems to have been done to tempt his older fans to watch a movie which they may not have had any inclination to see. Sadly they will be severely disappointed, not just by the absurd plot, but by the fact that this is far from being prime Nicholson. It actually starts off quite well, and Nicholson's characterisation of the obnoxious and unorthodox Dr. Buddy Rydell is generally amusing. But sadly after a promising start, the character fails to do anything other than come across as repetitive, both in dialogue and humour.

Although Marisa Tomei adds a beautiful diversion to the two main stars, she has very little to do in "Anger Management" and is a huge waste of talent. Add to this a selection of Sandler's buddies, whom seem to appear in most of his movies, and a couple of strange cameos, watch out for Woody Harrelson as a transvestite hooker, the supporting cast and characters also add very little. Except for John Turturo, who manages to provide some real moments of laugh out loud humour, despite being cast in quite a minor role as one of Rydell's patients.

Taking directional control is Peter Segal; in what would be the first of three collaborations with Sandler, resulting in the superior "50 First Dates" and the amusing "The Longest Yard". Whilst he has obviously made a movie which will appeal to anyone who is a fan of Sandler's style of crude, obnoxious comedy, it fails to really cater for anyone else, especially those who are fans of Jack Nicholson. Plus at 106 minutes long, "Anger Management" does tend to drag, mainly down to its repetitiveness and overly long set up.

What is also disappointing is that in a lot of Sandler's previously movies, they have been accompanied by a pretty decent and varied soundtrack. Whilst with "Anger Management" the soundtrack is pretty unmemorable except for a humorous version of "I Feel Pretty".

What this all boils down to is that although I have no doubt that "Anger Management" is a guaranteed audience pleaser amongst the fans of Adam Sandler's own brand of crude, obnoxious humour, it falls far short of being anything more than mildly entertaining for those who are not. Whilst it is filled with plenty of humour, its problems lie in the absurdity of the plot and the fact that the humour revolves around one gag. Even the casting of Jack Nicholson fails to improve its overall appeal and it just moves along doing its own thing seemingly ignorant of its own short falls.