|With Adam Sandler's rise to fame playing a variety of comedic roles in the last decade, the actor has had a more than respectable amount of success at the box office and has become known for his strange characters and annoying accents. Since his time on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Sandler has created a boatload of different characters which all seem to share the same voice inflection. While the characters' accents may differ, every new Adam Sandler performance highly resembles the previous one. In Anger Management, Sandler tots out his "usual" accent yet again during any scene in which his character seemingly needs to sound weird.|
Readily comparable to the repetitive performances of the late Andy Kaufman, Sandler makes quite a case for those who believe someone can play the same character over and over again. But in what can easily be considered inspired casting, the addition of Jack Nicholson to the cast of Management saves this picture from becoming "just another Adam Sandler film." After the horrid, disgraceful, (insert your own insult here) display of celluloid that was 2002's Mr. Deeds, the fact that Anger Management is a laugh-out-loud film in more than one scene goes far in repairing Sandler's feature film reputation.
Due mostly to the interaction between Sandler and Nicholson and a slew of talented supporting actors, there is always an entertaining joke on the screen for fans of this type of genre. Far from "high brow" humor, Anger Management successfully makes the case that stupid can indeed be funny. Unlike the mostly banal Old School, Anger displays its crudeness and lewd content in an entertaining fashion for most of its one-hundred or so minutes. Though it should be noted that well over half of the laughs come from Jack Nicholson's facial expressions. In further evidence that Nicholson is one of today's greatest actors, his performance isn't a degrading one (for an actor of his stature) but a genuinely hilarious one.
The addition of Luis Guzmán and John Turturro, and John C. Reilly to the cast in supporting roles gives the film additional laughs when the film's length starts to wear down the laughs-per-minute ratio on what Adam Sandler himself is capable of. The appearance of Marisa Tomei, talented woman that she is, gives the film a bit of dramatic weight as well. But interestingly enough, Sandler is not the funniest actor in the film (perhaps he's not supposed to be?), and his performance could have benefited from some additional realism or creativity in character. Playing a man wrongly accused of air-rage who is sentenced to time in anger management therapy (where he meets the insane "Buddy Rydell," Nicholson's character), Sandler's character is probably responsible for more of the serious moments in the film.
But Sandler himself, as an actor, is not able to pull the role off with any quips or characteristics that haven't been seen a million times before. Although his performance was unusually good in Punch-Drunk Love, the film itself suffered from an inflated ego (stemming from its director) and so Sandler's performance was lost in the strange filmmaking techniques. In Anger Management, Sandler is unfortunately up to his "old tricks," meaning fans will be treated to a performance that resembles too closely every other Sandler performance. But in looking at his past box office receipts, perhaps Sandler's old shtick is what people want to pay to see. It will surely be one of life's greatest mysteries as to why Deeds racked up the amount of box office it did . . .
But in accepting Sandler's comedic talents as they currently stand, Anger Management still exists as a highly entertaining film. Fans of Sandler will be pleased with the performances because Sandler is indeed up to his old tricks. And fans of Nicholson should enjoy the different side to that actor's personality displayed in his performance as Buddy Rydell. As the film follows the overused, abused, and done-before method of so many comedies before it, commenting on the script and story is probably a futile exercise, since no real benefit comes from either element. It is definitely the actors in this film which make it a worthwhile experience.
The basic idea for the film (the concept of anger management) in and of itself is a breeding ground for comedy, so the fact that a talented set of actors was able to create some jokes out of the idea is not surprising. And this film is not an example of a fresh comedy with something rather intelligent to say on modern society nor is it a film which seeks to satirize the concept of anger management with any more intelligence than a skit on Saturday Night Live. In point of fact, the idea might have worked quite well as a five minute sketch on that show. But in its hundred minute form, viewers will be thankful for Nicholson's appearance in the film and will only be able to hold on to faint hope that Sandler will decide to broaden his acting horizons on his next project.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.