Main cast: Adam Sandler (Dave Buznik), Jack Nicholson (Dr Buddy Rydell), Marisa Tomei (Linda), Luis Guzmán (Lou), Jonathan Loughran (Nate), Kurt Fuller (Frank Head), Krista Allen (Stacy), January Jones (Gina), John Turturro (Chuck), and Lynne Thigpen (Judge Honora Daniels)
Director: Peter Segal
I almost love this movie. It starts out so well, the comedy timing is perfect, and Jack Nicholson’s overacting doesn’t scare me for once. But it soon degenerates into familiar pedestrian fare one comes to expect from Adam Sandler’s low-brow comedy movies, with a bizarre moral about how a man has to act like a brat to get what he really wants in the end, and how women actually love it when a man makes an ass of himself in public. In short, this is a guy’s movie.
Sandler plays a mild-mannered man, Dave Buznik, whose childhood experiences caused him to grow up to be everybody’s favorite doormat. His girlfriend Linda despairs for him. A misunderstanding at an airplane causes Dave to end up in anger management run by the wacko guy who was seated beside him on the plane. Buddy Rydell’s methods are unorthodox, to say the least. Among the wacky methods of therapy involve Rydell and Buznik’s hilarious I Feel Pretty duet in a car, a hilarious beat-’em-up in a Buddhist monastery, and Heather Graham playing a woman with eating disorder. Yup, I find the last one surprisingly hysterical.
Adam Sandler doesn’t overact so he’s actually likeable, as charming as I found him in The Wedding Singer. Jack Nicholson is the one who is given free rein to be wacky and over-the-top, but he’s also very watchable and even hilarious. Let’s just hope this doesn’t encourage him to go the Robert De Niro route and make fifty unfunny “gangster” comedies per year or something.
Still, this movie doesn’t know how to end at a high note. The movie drags and drags in the third act, presenting a bewildering and implausible conspiracy theory and culminating in a scene where Dave is “cured” by acting like a typical Adam Sandler putz. Rudolph Giuliani makes an appearance to ask for a five-minute French kiss between Dave and Linda – there must be a sad inside joke in there somewhere.
Anger Management isn’t without brainpower – some of the gags here are parodies of movies like Auto Focus and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. But while it starts with a bang, it ends in a sappy, infantile note that cheapens the whole viewing experience. What a pity – this movie could have been that rare good Adam Sandler comedy.