Anger Management
Grade: C+
Year: 2003
Director: Peter Segal
Writer: David Dorfman
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Before beginning to partially enjoy "Anger Management," I had to first get used to Adam Sandler's chronic mumbling problem. Here again he is doing his usual no-confidence role, and because of that, his voice kind of trails off at the end of every sentence.

Sandler plays Dave Buznik, an average hard-working guy who could never get a break. In the beginning of the film, we see him as a child about to kiss the girl he likes before the neighborhood bully pulls his shorts down in front of the entire community. As an adult, he works as a designer and comes up with the brilliant idea of making clothes for oversized cats, however a co-worker immediately takes credit for the idea and gets the promotion.

Immediately we see the exhausted techniques used to show how miserable Dave's life is. His girlfriend Linda (Marisa Tomei) loves him, but doesn't fully understand why he is too shy (traumatic childhood) to kiss her in public. So before Dave boards the airplane heading to a forgettable destination, he parts Linda with a handshake. While on the plane, a series of mishaps take place (see trailer) that land him court facing assault charges. He is sentenced to undergo anger management therapy under the care of Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson).

You quickly see how Nicholson has the ability to adapt to his script, while Sandler on the other hand, maintains his Happy Gilmore/Billy Madison/The Waterboy state. Many critics argue that Nicholson and Sandler don't have a good chemistry together, but I think the problem is they have too little to work with. Just think about the premise: Dave has to successfully undergo anger management or spend a year in prison. There's no real conflict.

Nicholson's Dr. Rydell character is at least somewhat interesting. We quickly learn how extreme and unorthodox his procedures are. When Dave shows little progress in the early stages of his treatment, Dr. Rydell moves in and starts following Dave everywhere, including to the office where his co-workers soon learn Dave is in therapy.

Rydell's style ranges from weird to bizarre, but never consistent. He preaches, "temper is the one thing you can't get rid of by losing it," yet many times we see him explode in a stranger's face. At one point he decides to punish the indicial who parked to close to him by pushing his expensive car over the edge of a cliff. The reason for Rydell's inconsistent behavior comes straight from poor character development; which in this case is sub-par, even for the comedy genre.

"Anger Management" is packed with celebrity cameos; some are good while others are down-right embarrassing. SNL's Kevin Nealon plays Dave's unsuccessful but amusing attorney, and a few of the New York Yankees make an appearance; it's always fun seeing athletes in the movies. As for bad cameos, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani crashes the party more than once, but his role isn't as bad as Bobby Knight's, who mistakenly joins Dave at an anger management session when he's supposed to be at a place I'd rather not mention. Woody Harrelson is a drag queen hooker, Heather Graham is a compulsive brownie eater, and the list continues on for awhile.

The best scene in the movie takes place when Dave is forced to stop his car on a two-lane bridge because Rydell doesn't like his 'flustering.' To cool down, Dave and Dr. Rydell do a musical number together while cars zoom by cursing at them for causing a traffic jam behind them. There are a few other good scenes but most of it is purely lame with your typical mundane humor. When a restaurant host is encountered by two porn stars, he gets stunned and asks, "Would you like a boob--I mean booth?"

Most of the humor is sexual in nature, although nothing is too shocking because it's all been done before, many times. Dave shows a homophobic tendency when Dr. Rydell informs him that they will be sharing the same bed, but Dave's anxiety is soon justified when Rydell strips naked and puts his arm around Dave before falling asleep. Do we really expect them to remain on opposite sides?

The climax takes place at Yankee Stadium, and what happens is so crazy and far-fetched that we forget that characters dancing in a circle together while holding hands as the credits roll in the middle of a park is kind of absurd. "Anger Management" is a weak comedy with a few sporadic laughs, but it still isn't worth your money. However, if you have your heart set on a comedy and "Old School" is no longer playing at your theater, then you might possibly find some enjoyment in this year's forgettable duo-comedy.

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Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati