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Anger Management (2003)
Anger Management is a 2003 American slapstick comedy film directed by Peter Segal, written by David S. Dorfman, and starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. It was produced by Revolution Studios in association with Sandler's production company Happy Madison Productions and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. In 1978, a young Dave Buznik is about to kiss the girl of his dreams, when a local bully, Arnie Shankman, pulls down his pants and underwear, embarrassing him in front of everybody. This leaves Dave with lasting trauma about public affection, as well as repressing his emotions. In the present day, Dave Buznik lives in New York, working as a secretary for Frank, an abusive boss who takes credit for Dave's work. His problems also extend to his private life, much to the concern of his girlfriend Linda. Her ex-boyfriend and best friend Andrew, is in her life constantly, and makes no resistance in being condescending to Dave. While flying to a business meeting, Dave sits next to a man named Buddy Rydell. Buddy irritates Dave, and after Buddy pressures Dave to watch a movie with him, Dave asks the flight attendant for a headset.
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.