Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler together. It was the duo we never thought we'd see - the multiple Oscar winner who is praised for nearly ever movie he appears in, and the popular comedian that gets ravaged by critics every time. Nevertheless, the two actors from different sides of the track team up in Anger Management and unfortunately do very little to make the movie very entertaining.
Of all the movies released thus far in 2003, Anger Management was the first movie I was really looking forward to. The trailer - focused around Sandler's incident on the airplane - was hilarious at the least, and the very fact that Nicholson was involved was enough for me. I'll just say that the hype I created for the movie was quite great, which would, of course, lead to some disappointment nearly inevitably, but I was not expecting a bland, inconsistent and at times cheesy comedy that does little to accommodate either of its big stars.
The movie starts off moderately well, jumping right to the scene on the airplane. The scene is funny, but unfortunately not at all that interesting, since everyone in the theater had probably already seen it a dozen times in the trailer. After apparently accosting a flight attendant, Sandler is sentenced to anger management therapy under the watchful eye of Nicholson. Things go downhill from there, both for Sandler's character and the audience.
Anger Management just isn't that funny. Obviously, Nicholson and Sandler have drastically different forms of comedy, but instead of using both approaches and weaving them together, both actors seem to compromise and do something in the middle, a blend. It really doesn't work. Sandler's slapstick and sometimes slightly disturbing humor is muted here, as he plays essentially the same character he has played many times before, only without a lot of the "witty" lines that made him so popular. There is a time for trying something new and a time for doing what you do best, and Sandler tried to do something slightly new, only without the humor.
As for Nicholson, it is entertaining watching him work his way through the movie as a psychotic with freaky facial expressions (a la The Shining), but only for a limited time. After a while, I began to wish that Nicholson would actually spit out some funny lines; for the most part he just pushes Sandler around and acts weird. I felt some chemistry between the two actors, but none of the scenes lend themselves very well to showing this; Nicholson never really goes off on Sandler, and when Sandler goes off on Nicholson, it is quite drab. There is just something missing from this movie.
Anger Management is yet another good example of a waste of good talent. After all, in addition to Sandler and Nicholson, the movie also features Marisa Tomei (looking more gorgeous than ever), Heather Graham, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, and John C. Reilly. There are also a lot of cameo appearances, such as from Bobby Knight and John McEnroe (take one guess where they show up), a humorous bit from Woody Harrelson, and some pretty wasted performances by some Yankee players and Rudy Giuliani. I am sorry, but I am just sick of Giuliani. Not only is his cameo stupid as hell, but do people actually like the guy other than the fact that he just happened to be mayor during 9-11?
All of this being said, Anger Management does have sporadically hilarious scenes thrown in, and managed to make me chuckle quite a bit. Nevertheless, I was overall unimpressed with the quality of the movie; so much of it seemed force and without a punch line. Most of the jokes never went anywhere, and the ones that did were tired at best. The entire last twenty minutes of the film is cliché, as it stumbles into the dreaded romantic comedy genre. Ugh.
Anger Management obviously had potential but failed to do much with it. It isn't a horrible movie, but it isn't very good, either. It was very disappointing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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