Starring Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Kevin Nealon, Allen Covert and Kurt Fuller

Directed by Peter Segal

Review by Mark Walters


Adam Sandler's film career began (not unlike Jim Carrey's) with a bang, and it wasn't long before his films had acquired a loyal following of adoring fans.  In recent years however his cinematic efforts felt either too strange, or just not what audiences really hoped for from the star.  The disastrous LITTLE NICKY was almost enough to make me swear off Sandler for good.  Fortunately his latest effort ANGER MANAGEMENT may just be the comeback he needed to show everyone the Sandman's still got it.  Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a lifelong weakling who never stands up to anyone that taunts him.  While traveling on a business trip, a simple request from a flight attendant is mistaken as a show of rage, and before we know it Dave is in court being sentenced to 20 days of Anger Management therapy, which seems silly since he appears to be anything but angry.  He's sent to Dr. Buddy (Nicholson) Rydell, who turns out to be a somewhat unorthodox therapist with an eccentric group of patients.  Rydell ends up moving in with Dave, saying that extreme methods are required to effectively cure this problem.  This comes at a bad time, since Dave is dealing with his girlfriend Linda (Tomei) wanting him to be more aggressive at work, not to mention her all-too-agressive guy friend Andrew (Covert), and a boss (Fuller) that only seems to complain.  Once Buddy begins using his radical methods, Dave starts to question his new doctor's abilities, and begins to wonder if Rydell is some sort of scam artist.  He almost wonders if the good doctor needs more therapy than he does.

ANGER MANAGEMENT doesn't do anything too out of the ordinary, but it sure is funny.  Nicholson and Sandler exhibit great chemistry onscreen, and both men appear comfortable enough to portray their respective characters in perfect form.  Sandler is always best when he plays an underdog surrounded by adversaries, and does a good job making us want to see him win.  Nicholson is of course a natural when playing the devilish doctor, and there are moments where we (like Dave) wonder if the man is really who he pretends to be.  Tomei is looking good here, (especially considering she's pushing 40) and won my heart despite little screen time.

 The always brilliant John Turturro shows up as an obviously troubled anger patient named Chuck, who at one point is partnered up with Dave, and ends up just making matters worse.  Also look for Steven Soderbergh and Paul Thomas Anderson regular Luis Guzman plays a flamboyantly gay anger patient that always has something to say.  Allen Covert, who is frequently used in Sandler's films, does a good job playing the slimy over-bearing guy friend to Linda.  Kevin Nealon briefly portrays Dave's unhelpful lawyer, though he disappears halfway through the film never to be seen again. The unbelievably sexy Krista Allen appears in a few scenes as one of two porn star patients in Dr. Rydell's group.  You may also notice a few cameos by actors like Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Harry Dean Stanton and Heather Graham, along with sports figures like John McEnroe and Bobby Knight, and even former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  The film is directed by Peter Segal, who won big with TOMMY BOY, but has been linked with lesser hits like THE NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPSSegal sticks with what's funny here, whether it be physical comedy or just safe bet sight gags like a very overweight cat in a ridiculous purple sweater.  There are plenty of laughs in the movie, which distract us enough to ignore some of it's formulaic aspects.  If there are any faults to speak of, they're in the film's lack of resolve to a few established issues.  The ending seems to hurry itself in order to get to one major event, which is somewhat unfortunate since it glosses over a persona from Sandler we've been waiting trough the whole film to see.  ANGER MANAGEMENT works because Sandler and Nicholson work.  When these two are together onscreen it's gold.  Thankfully Segal spends a majority of the time focusing on their chemistry.  I have no doubt this flick will do well, and it should.  Sandler reminds us why we liked him to begin with... even if it takes a little help from Jack.

Images copyright REVOLUTION STUDIOS and COLUMBIA PICTURES 2003 score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give ANGER MANAGEMENT a 9.

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All content 2004