Nicholson and Sandler in 1D
The premise of this film has a relatively timid man, Dave Buznik, being sent to anger management therapy with a man, Dr. Buddy Rydell, whose methods are questionable and serve primarily to make Buznik angrier than he's ever been. For much of the film, though, I felt the main purpose for the film was an excuse to pit Jack Nicholson (Rydell) against Adam Sandler (Buznik). This is, in fact, a relatively interesting idea - Nicholson is arguably one of the best film actors ever, able to bring a real presence to some very boderline characters - and Sandler certainly has presence as well, but his abilities are consistently wasted on such low-brow comedies that few would have noticed.
Now, in terms of Nicholson versus Sandler, the film delivers strongly. Buddy Rydell's techniques are very effective in provoking Buznik, but is it really therapy? That's the question we are supposed to have in our minds until the end.
Along for the ride is Marisa Tomei, as Buznik's girlfriend Linda. She's been waiting for a marriage proposal for some time with no luck. For such a great actress, once her character is established, she's really only used as a foil for the other characters, and to be subject to Rydell's advances. The film also features small roles for John Turturro and Woody Harrelson, but these actors get to stretch out their talent in character pieces, rather than being hemmed in like Tomei.
I was getting fairly hopeful for the film until I realized I was waiting for something - basically for something new to be added to the story. What we have is just a series of scenes on the same idea until things have to resolve in the final act. The plot is more or less a straight arrow from beginning to end. It gives us plenty of Nicholson/Sandler action, but not much else. The ending ties things up well, but isn't much of a surprise to anyone after the first twenty minutes of the film.
For what is essentially a one-dimensional film, Anger Management is pretty good, largely from the performances of our two headliners, but that's not quite enough for me. This film is little more than a novelty, sadly, when it could have had some real ambition.
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