Anger Management is Adam Sandler’s greatest cinematic accomplishment in the comedy genre and a hilarious movie that is sure to have viewers laughing.
However, Management‘s plot is nothing new or groundbreaking, which costs the film some originality points. The comic beauty of the film is also dulled down by a tired love story that plays out as predictable.
Sandler is able to hold his own when he’s a star but seems to struggle through most of Management by trying to reach the bar set by Jack Nicholson. Despite its flaws, the film is easily worth the price of admission and a good way to spend a Saturday night.
The film opens on a sunny afternoon in Manhattan, when a young Dave Buznik (later played by Sandler) is confronted by his elementary school crush. This encounter leads to an innocent game of truth or dare that is cut short when a bully comes from behind and exposes him.
More than two decades after the grade school incident, Dave is an executive secretary who designs clothing for overweight cats. His reluctance to show public affection leaves his girlfriend, Linda (Marisa Tomei), feeling neglected.
Dave has a problem standing up for himself and his passive nature gets tested on a business flight. He encounters a passenger who refuses to move from his seat.
Fortunately, another passenger, Buddy Rydell (Nicholson), who happens to be a therapist, offers Dave an available seat.
The comic moments the audience expects begin when Dave asks a flight attendant for headsets, which somehow leads to a racial misunderstanding and an unfortunate taser incident.
The film’s comic brilliance shines after the flight attendant fiasco when Dave is sentenced to an intensive anger management program under Buddy’s supervision.
Buddy’s goal throughout the movie is not to suppress Dave’s anger but to help him unleash it. Dave’s problem is his implosive personality and his fear of confrontation, which Buddy solves by making Dave’s life hell.
Those everyday interactions, like having a quiet breakfast and going to work, are given a new spin due to Buddy’s seemingly psychotic approach to anger therapy.
Anger Management‘s strength comes from the hilarious and believable chemistry between Sandler and Nicholson.
Only on a few occasions does the attention shift from the interaction between Sandler-Nicholson, to some well-thought-out cameo appearances by John C. Reilly and Heather Graham who manage to steal screen time from the headlining duo.
Woody Harrelson’s performance as a cross dresser hired to talk to Dave is surprisingly hilarious and is accompanied by Sandler’s reaction that embodies the character’s homophobia.
Nicholson delivers his best comedic performance since his Oscar-winning role in As Good As It Gets. But where that film went for the more sophisticated laughs, Management aims straight for the gut. Nicholson has little more to do than raise an eyebrow to evoke the laughter of the audience.
Meanwhile, Sandler reprises the same soft-spoken role that made him a star in The Waterboy and Big Daddy. In this film, however, Sandler returns with the realism that was missed in 2002’s lackluster Mr. Deeds.
Anger Management serves as a step in the right direction for Sandler and it further solidifies Nicholson as one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors.
The film’s cast delivers memorable performances and many funny one-liners but lacks the innovative ideas that could’ve made it the best comedy of the year.
Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 101 minutes
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