Anger Management Peter Segal
Published Apr 01, 2003So, Adam Sandler has finally grown up you say. Not so fast. True, he recently made a tremendous leap from his signature marble-mouthed man-childs to play an earnest, lovelorn nebbish in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love. But it seems the hero of frat boys and ten-year-olds everywhere is back to his old tricks again. Well, almost. With Anger Management, Sandler and his usual cohorts have churned out another churlish comedy replete with porn stars, cross dressers and rivals with huge members. This time, though, he's playing the straight man to Jack Nicholson's crazed social deviant. His true fans will tell you that they don't care if he acts like an adult or an adolescent, so long as he's funny. So, is he? As Anger Management's Dave Buznik, not really.
Buznik is a mumbling bundle of insecurities, a punch-drunk schlub who works a thankless cubicle job for a pet products company. Running a bad luck streak that would make Job cringe, he is sentenced to a year in jail for the accidental assaults of a flight attendant and a barmaid, only to be "rescued" by anger management expert Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson, definitely in between Oscar bids). Rydell, a yellow-toothed jackal with a goatee as wild as his unconventional therapies, moves into Buznik's apartment to provide treatment in lieu of jail time and wastes no time moving in on his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) as well.
True to the Sandler oeuvre, the movie is more than a little broad, and plenty loud. But there is a sense that the prince of arrested movie development is trying to clean up his act. One character is actually accused of being homophobic, albeit somewhat hypocritically. Everyone from John Turturro to John C. Reilly to Woody Harrelson make game supporting players (although Harrelson, playing the ugliest transvestite prostitute alive, might have been a little too game). But the movie feels flat and forced. There's trouble afoot when the standout bit is an all-male sing-a-long to "I Feel Pretty." Maybe instead of yelling, and being yelled at, all the time, Sandler should try his hand at a musical instead and really stretch those vocal chords. (Columbia/Sony)