These two performers come together for the first time in a strange and uneven movie ostensibly about the dysfunction caused by repressed anger. Sandler's Dave, traumatized since the 1970s when his small package was revealed by a bully in the middle of his Brooklyn neighborhood, is an executive assistant to the president of a pet clothing company (people, I don't make this stuff up). A plane trip lands him in a seat next to Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson), and a chance arm-brush with a flight attendant (you've seen the trailers) lands him in court for assault. Soon enough he's sentenced to spend a month in the care of Rydell, who moves into Dave's flat, where he demands breakfast be cooked for him and sleeps naked with him in his bed.
The bulk of the movie explores Rydell's unconventional therapy, which consists of verbally abusing Dave, taking him on a field trip to visit a she-male hooker, and in the worst buzzkill ever to hit a so-called comedy, stealing his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei).
Strung together with the thinnest of scripts and the most haphazard editing I've encountered in years, Anger Management comes across like a series of skits on an episode of SNL (and Lorne Michaels, along with countless actors and New York celebs, makes a cameo): Some of the vignettes are funny (namely an extended "date" with Heather Graham in her funniest work ever), and some are expectedly lame (I won't reveal who's hiding behind that hooker's wig). The real upside though is that the good and the bad are sufficiently well-mixed, enough so you don't spend too long bored before the next funny bit (such as a rendition of "I Feel Pretty" while the duo is stopping traffic on a bridge) pops up.
Director Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II, Tommy Boy) seems to have little control of his set and less over his actors, and first-time writer David Dorfman's script could have used some serious work. (If you're going to steal from The Odd Couple, do it right, man!) Missed opportunities for real comedy are glaringly obvious throughout the movie; instead, Dorfman opts for unceasing fart and dick jokes, which come rapid-fire when he can't find a better way out of the scene. We expect this from Sandler, but Nicholson is above this material.
With all that said, Anger Management is an OK and wholly average comedy, desperately in need of a backbone but with plenty of funny gags to keep most audiences entertained, though I did count a few walkouts. As for "anger management," there isn't a whole lot of insight except that beating people up is alright from time to time. Honestly, though, I could have used some real advice to help me deal with the chattering twits sitting behind me.
Don't get mad, get glad.
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th April 2003
Box Office USA: $133.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $135.6M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Revolution Studios, Happy Madison Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 82 Rotten: 107
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Peter Segal
Screenwriter: David Dorfman
Starring: Adam Sandler as Dave Buznik, Jack Nicholson as Dr. Buddy Rydell, Marisa Tomei as Linda, Luis Guzmán as Lou, Woody Harrelson as Galaxia / Security Guard Gary, John Turturro as Chuck, Kevin Nealon as Sam, Dave's Lawyer, Allen Covert as Andrew, Heather Graham as Kendra, Krista Allen as Stacy, Derek Jeter as Himself
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