U.S. Release Date: April 11, 2003
Distributor: Sony (Revolution)
Director: Peter Segal
Producer: Todd Garner (executive), Jack Giarraputo, Tim Herlihy (executive), John Jacobs (executive), Adam Sandler (executive)
Composer: Teddy Castellucci
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, January Jones, Woody Harrelson, John Turturro
Running Time: 1 hour and 41 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (crude sexual content and language)

Anti-Hero Management
by Scott Holleran

Adam Sandler presents his familiar dim-innocent-against-the-world shtick yet again in Anger Management, bringing nothing new to the dumb-is-virtuous brand of comedy made popular by Jerry Lewis.

What's noteworthy is the addition of anti-hero Jack Nicholson to the routine. Nicholson, who made his motion picture debut as a juvenile delinquent (The Cry Baby Killer, 1958), is playing the same aging, unhinged Baby Boomer he first used and won an Oscar for in 1997's As Good As it Gets.

Nicholson's character doesn't work here. His Buddy Rydell, anger shrink to Sandler's repressed nerd Dave, is too sinister to be a harmless trigger for Sandler's humor. The craggy doctor couldn't get within ten feet of Sandler's screen girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) let alone become a suitor, which the movie presents as the climax. Nicholsonówith those eyebrows, a goatee and that raspóis more frightening than funny in Sandler's dumb and sunny world.

Unfortunately, the Nicholson/Sandler pairing is the core of this thinly plotted picture, although Sandler fans will likely be pleased anyway.

Sandler's Dave, humiliated in a single incident as a child, is supposed to be anger repressed. It's not plausible that such a dolt would become a top executive's assistant and boyfriend to Tomei's character, but it's as likely as Nicholson's best-selling self-help guru doing court-ordered group therapy.

When Dave is forced to join Dr. Rydell's anger group sessions, which are filled with unfunny characters played by John Turturro and Luis Guzman among others, his life is turned upside down. The plot points are obvious and, like most of today's comedies, the jokes are one-liners strung together with no real connection.

Though it gathers steam toward the end, Anger Management falters by presenting buffoonish Dr. Rydell as Dave's romantic competitor and it finally loses credibility with a ridiculous deception. Despite numerous examples of gag casting, including Woody Harrelson as a drag whore, Heather Graham as a neurotic freak and John C. Reilly (Chicago) as a monk, the movie, saddled by Nicholson's tired anti-hero, manages to be mediocre.

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