Combustible Celluloid
Get the Poster
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
Download at i-tunes Download on iTunes
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Woody Harrelson, Heather Graham, Harry Dean Stanton, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Krista Allen, January Jones
Written by: David Dorfman
Directed by: Peter Segal
MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language
Running Time: 106
Date: 03/05/2003

Anger Management (2003)

1 Star (out of 4)

Raging Lull

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Adam Sandler's cult fans are a fickle bunch. Some Sandler films enjoystrong cult followings, like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer andPunch-Drunk Love. But when a Sandler film doesn't work, like LittleNicky, Eight Crazy Nights or Mr. Deeds, no one likes it; everyonewould be happier if these films were melted down or buried.

The new Anger Management is one of those latter films.

Whereas Punch-Drunk Love very brilliantly channeled Sandler's penchant for rage into a powerful, touching performance, Anger Management pretends to do that and avoids the issue completely. Indeed, Sandler's character Dave Buznik is a passive, rather gutless character. When we first see him on an airplane, an airline hostess accuses him of violence when he hasn't done anything. I can't imagine how anyone, at any time, might have thought this was funny.

But Dave is accused of assault, and he's legally assigned to spend time with Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), who leads a class full of people with real anger issues (including John Turturro, Luis Guzman and a pair of hot lesbian porn actresses played by Krista Allen and January Jones).

Rydell continues to push Dave's buttons until he spirals more and more out of control. Rydell steals his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) and takes Dave to see the bully who once pantsed him. The bully (John C. Reilly) is now a monk, and their confrontation proves to be the only quasi-funny scene in the film.

Reilly's appearance -- along with other cameos by Woody Harrelson, Heather Graham, Harry Dean Stanton, New York Mayor Giuliani and New York Yankees Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens -- don't surprise so much as they make us wonder why. Why would these talented and respected people stoop to being in this movie? Didn't they read the script? Have they no pride?

Despite a few of his patented devilish grins, not even Jack Nicholson can inject any energy or humor into this dead weight of a film. Nicholson has been on such a roll lately with all-time great performances in his last three films. But Anger Management ranks in his filmography somewhere near Heartburn and Man Trouble.

Likewise, Marisa Tomei has very recently established herself as a strong and interesting character actor, stealing scenes in films as varied as What Women Want, In the Bedroom and Just a Kiss. Here she has the boring "girlfriend" role, whose entire existence is to care for and think about the male lead. Again, didn't she get a script to read?

The ending, which I'll refrain from explaining, is even more insulting and infuriating than the movie itself. In one fell swoop, it negates anything the movie might have tried to accomplish.

Mostly, though, Anger Management is just limp and timid. It has three of the punchiest, most outrageous actors working today, and it doesn't care enough -- can't muster the energy -- to let them loose. It just straps them down, sends them through the motions, and expects us to laugh on cue.

Movies Unlimtied