“Anger Management” is a hit and miss of a movie. It strikes a perfect note in its casting of Jack Nicholson, but fails to really take advantage ofHollywood’s most colorful actor. The movie, as we may all know by now, is about (Adam Sandler) being ridiculously accused of flaring his temper on an airplane and then being sentenced to court ordered anger management. His mentor is (Nicholson), a former rage-aholic.
Nicholson’s techniques in curing Sadler’s frustration are unconventional and can be quite funny. He demonstrates that it is okay to release your frustration, as long as are apologetic and good at making amends. For example, when they are about to take off to the airport, Nicholson’s car is blocked by a large, black SUV illegally parked. Rather than lose his cool, he grabs for a crow bar, smashes out the driver side window and shifts the car into neutral, thus enabling him to maneuver out. He does however, extend the courtesy of leaving his insurance information on the dash. “Now, I could have lost my cool and screamed to high heaven about this bastard. But that would have gotten me nowhere except fifteen minutes behind schedule. This is simpler and more effective”. Then the car roles too far and falls about ten floors to the bottom.
Soon enough, Nicholson realizes that Sandler’s problem is intimidation. He learns that Sandler resorts to a temper because he had to defend himself so much while growing up with the neighborhood bully. So, Nicholson decides to take him to have one last mono a mono match with the tormentor. Where do they end up at? Why a Buddhist temple of course. And the bully has sought out the teachings and ways of the Buddhist monk. This, however, does not stop Nicholson from antagonizing Sandler until he has a Wrestle Mania style showdown with the now converted monk.
These unique theories of Nicholson’s keep the movie at an expected humorous pace (including a run in with cameo Heather Graham, which ends up being more creepy and weird than anything). But, nothing really ever gets off the ground. Sandler and Nicholson have a good chemistry together, but most opportunities for big laughs, clever setups, and use of character acting either falls short or never even occur. Nicholson, who is known for delivering some of the most memorable anger intoxicated characters, is kept idling throughout the entire movie. He does blow his lid a few times, but it’s nothing to get excited about. Before the movie started, I knew that eventually he and Sandler who kick the crap out of each other, but the way it’s setup is lame and only sort of funny.
This is really too bad. “Anger Management” comes up with a great launching pad for comedy. The idea of putting Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler in the same movie about rage control is funny all on its own. But here, it gets ruined with sophomoric rather clever laughs, unneeded subplots, and, for the love of God, a cool, controlled Jack.