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ANGER MANAGEMENT(director: Peter Segal; screenwriter: David Dorfman; cinematographer: Donald McAlpine; editor: Jeff Gourson; music: Teddy Castellucci; cast: Jack Nicholson (Dr. Buddy Rydell), Adam Sandler (Dave Buznik), Marisa Tomei (Linda), Krista Allen (Stacy), January Jones (Gina), Luis Guzmán (Lou), John Turturro (Chuck), John C. Reilly (Arnie Shankman), Heather Graham (Kendra), Harry Dean Stanton (Blind Man), Allen Covert (Andrew), Woody Harrelson (Galaxia), Kevin Nealon (Defense Attorney), Lynne Thigpen (Judge Daniels), Kurt Fuller (Frank Head); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Barry Bernardi/Derek Dauchy/Todd Garner/Jack Giarraputo; Columbia Pictures; 2003)
“No one in this film exits without some egg on their face.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It took restraint on this viewer’s part not to go ballistic over this dreadful comedy. Anger Management pairs Adam Sandler with Jack Nicholson, and relies on these stars to make the most of the absurd premise they are saddled with. Sandler after receiving critical praise for his role in the art-house film Punch Drunk Love, returns to the type of inane comedy flick that made him a mega box-office star. The comic should feel right at home with crass jokes about penis size and flatulence. Nicholson also returns to familiar commercial film turf after his venture in About Schmidt, a passable art film where he undeservedly got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He plays the scene-chewing role of the lovable cad, a formulaic part he has done often and by now could probably do in his sleep.

Sandler plays Dave Buznik, an advertising executive assistant who is passed over for promotions and taken for granted in his pet clothing company where he designs clothing for overweight cats. He’s a mild-mannered Brooklyn-born schlemiel, who is uptight about the small size of his penis and kissing in public. These repressed sexual and social problems linger into adulthood, after being humiliated and traumatized in a childhood incident when a grade-school bully, Arnie Shankman (John C. Reilly), pulled down his pants in public as he was about to have his first kiss. Dave later on is goaded into a fight with his neighborhood nemesis, Arnie, who became a Buddhist monk and changed his name. Dave’s sweet girlfriend Linda (Marisa Tomei) is the poetry teacher dreamgirl he is dying to marry, but she’s miffed that he isn’t more aggressive at work. The sensitive poetess also wants him to act more confident and not to be afraid to kiss her in public.

Nicholson as Dr. Buddy Rydell is an anger-management therapist, who has Dave as a patient on a court order issued by the arrogant-black-woman judge after an incident on an airplane involving the assault of a flight attendant and a later incident where he broke the nose of a waitress while trying to take away the cane of a blind man. The one-joke situation is that the charges of anger are unjustified, and Dave’s punishment of jail time if the therapy doesn’t work is absurd. Dr. Rydell is a certifiable lunatic, whose bizarre treatment centers on him moving into Dave’s apartment for the next thirty days and taking control of the patsy’s life.

Buddy Rydell is sporting a beret and Satan-like goatee, and taking great glee in acting obnoxious and spouting psychological babble about curing Dave’s “TAS-Toxic Anger Syndrome.” The shrink reminds his patient, “Temper is the one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it.” The joke is that Buddy’s anger is more out of control than his patient’s, as he throws a temper tantrum when Dave doesn’t make his breakfast eggs the way he likes them

Dave has to deal with the angry wackos of Buddy’s therapy group, where he’s ordered to sit in on the sessions. The group of caricature figures includes Krista Allen and January Jones as sexy lesbian lovers with anger issues, and John Turturro and Luis Guzmán as men with violent tendencies. The two angry men spice up the physical comedy antics with over-the-top performances. The comedy comes through skits worked out showing the men curbing their anger by chanting a nonsensical mantra whenever they’re going berserk.

There are many cameos throughout, ranging from the New York Yankee stars Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens to Bobby Knight and Rudolph W. Giuliani. The former NYC mayor and hero of post-9/11 embarrassingly shouts out to Sandler in Yankee Stadium “Give her a five-second Frenchie!” Woody Harrelson has a vulgar role as a transvestite cross-dresser. No one in this film exits without some egg on their face.

Peter Segal (“Nutty Professor 11“) directs this aimless and mild escapist venture as if it’s for a public desperately needing comedy relief from the ongoing war on terrorism and the Iraqi war, as its rote script goes through the motions of trying to make the viewer forget about anything serious. The cheerful background shots show that the Big Apple’s nightlife and restaurants are back to normal, and that the New York Yankees are still as popular as ever.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”