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Peter Segal
Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzmán
Writing Credits:
David Dorfman

Feel the love.

Dave Buznik (Adam Sander) is usually a mild-mannered, non-confrontational guy. But after an altercation aboard an airplane, he is remanded to the care of anger management therapist, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), who could probably use some anger management himself.

Box Office:
Budget $75 million.
Opening Weekend
$42.220 million on 3551 screens.
Domestic Gross
$133.756 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $27.94
Release Date: 9/16/2003

• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Segal and Actor Adam Sandler
• Deleted Scenes
• “Skull Session” Feature
• “My Buddy, Jack” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• “Do You Have Anger Problems?” Game
• Trailers

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Anger Management (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2003)

Pairings of superstars don’t always succeed – we need look no further than the legendary dud Ishtar to prove that. But with both Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson at the forefront of 2003’s Anger Management, it seemed destined to succeed.

And prosper it did, at least at the box office, where it earned a tidy $133 million. Creatively, however, Anger feels like a missed opportunity. It scores occasionally but mostly seems like it doesn’t take full advantage of all the talent at its disposal.

Anger opens with a brief prologue set in 1978. We see young Dave Buznik (Jonathan Osser), a nerdy adolescent who displays a longing for Sarah Plowman (Melissa Mitchell). She’s interested too, and she dares him to kiss her. When he goes to do so, a bully pants him. That ruins the moment and sets up a lifetime of shyness and repressed feelings.

When we meet present-day Dave (Sandler), we see the results of the humiliation. He seems like a nice guy, but he’s also a doormat who won’t kiss his girlfriend Linda (Marisa Tomei) in public. On a work-related plane flight, he sits next to Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson), who behaves in a loud and obnoxious manner.

Eventually Dave runs into problems due to an alleged outburst of anger on the plane, and he finds himself under arrest. He receives an order to attend anger management therapy, where he undergoes treatment led bu none other than Dr. Buddy. Dave meets the other participants in the group and gets a psycho named Chuck (John Turturro) as his “anger partner”. Unfortunately for Dave, this leads to a bar fight in which Buznik takes the blame. After another court date, Dave gets placed in intensive therapy, which means that Buddy moves in with him and works with him on a constant basis.

From there we watch this odd couple interact and get into all sorts of funny situations. Or at least the filmmakers hope we’ll derive amusement from these circumstances. In reality, the laughs seem pretty hit or miss.

Most of the hits come in the movie’s first half. For one, that portion benefits from Turturro’s solid performance. He delivered the stand-out work in 2002’s Mr. Deeds and he delivers again in Anger. Chuck is a very limited character, but Turturro makes the most of him and provides more than his fair share of laughs. Turturro works wonders with some less than great material and allows his moments to shine.

The simple novelty of the Sandler/Nicholson pairing also propels the movie’s early moments. Unfortunately, the longer the film goes, the less interesting this becomes. Sandler offers an unusually low-key performance; he apparently developed some greater acting skills after the challenge of Punch-Drunk Love, and that shows here. It’s not a great piece of acting, but Sandler seems a little richer than usual here.

Unfortunately, Nicholson comes across as though he’s on cruise control the whole time. During many of his contemporary performances, Nicholson tends to overemphasize Jack the personality and ignore the real actor within. That occurs here, as Nicholson goes for the broad laughs and fails to develop much of a real personality to Buddy.

It doesn’t help that Anger comes stuffed with easy gags. Material like having Buddy sleep in the nude – while in bed with Dave – doesn’t exactly seem inspired or clever. Anger even suffers the indignity of appearing to rip off the clunker Analyze That. The latter prominently featured its leads as they sang “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, and Anger does the same. Since Anger started production well before That hit the screens, I expect this was a coincidence, but it remains an unfortunate coincidence.

Like many other Sandler flicks, Anger comes packed with cameos. These get less and less effective with every successive flick, and most of the ones found here flop. Not surprisingly, the earliest ones are the best, if just because they seem fresher. As the film progresses, the cameos become more expected and less successful.

The same goes for the movie itself. At 106 minutes, Anger Management isn’t a long film, but it definitely peters out as it progresses, and it feels worn out by the conclusion. The inevitable nature of the storyline doesn’t help, as the ultimate ending never feels in doubt. I like Adam Sandler and always root for his movies to be good, but Anger Management only sporadically offers laughs.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Anger Management appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The picture looked generally solid, though it suffered from a few small issues.

Sharpness appeared slightly erratic. Most of the movie came across as acceptably distinct and well defined, but some exceptions occurred. A few soft shots popped up throughout the movie, though they never dominated the proceedings. No jagged edges or shimmering marred the piece, but some light edge enhancement showed up at times. The picture seemed a little grainier than I’d expect and occasional examples of specks and grit also appeared on a few occasions.

Colors mostly looked fine. They presented a natural palette that seemed warm and full. The tones seemed concise and vivid the majority of the time, with only a few slightly dull shots. Black levels were dense and deep, and low-light scenes generally appeared appropriately defined. Shadow detail was a smidgen thick at times, but not often. Overall, the image of Anger Management was a little bland for a modern flick, but it mostly came across as positive.

Anger Management presented Dolby Digital 5.1 audio that seemed like a pretty typical soundtrack for this sort of comedy. The forward domain played the strongest role in the audio throughout the film. The mix displayed solid stereo imaging and also created a pretty good sense of environment through various effects. Elements meshed together well and moved across the spectrum cleanly. As for the surrounds, they remained the junior partners most of the time, but they occasionally became more involved in the proceedings. For example, one scene in which a car fell and crashed brought the rear speakers more vividly into the mix.

Audio quality appeared fine. Speech was smooth and distinct, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems connected to intelligibility. Music sounded bright and vivid and displayed pretty good range. Effects were clean and accurate, and they suffered from no signs of distortion. Bass response never seemed terrific, but the low-end rounded out the piece nicely. The soundtrack did the job and presented some more than acceptable audio.

A mix of extras round out Anger Management. These open with an audio commentary from director Peter Segal and actor Adam Sandler. Both of them sit together for this running, screen-specific track. I previously heard Sandler chat for Little Nicky; he didn’t tell us much about the movie but he seemed funny, especially since he incessantly cracked on one of his cohorts.

Unfortunately, this commentary lacks that one’s moderate amusement. Very little real information about Anger appears here. We get a few behind the scenes tidbits, but not much of import. Instead, the two mostly just praise the flick and its participants, and they also narrate it and quote lines. Sandler and Segal joke with each other a little and occasionally make the commentary somewhat entertaining, but for the most part, the track seems like a dull dud.

Four Deleted Scenes appear next. These run between 75 seconds and five minutes, 13 seconds for a total of 10 minutes, 16 seconds of footage. It’s too bad we find no optional commentary to explain why these failed to make the cut, because some of them are actually pretty good. We get a John McEnroe cameo that’s better than any that made the final flick, and the others offer some humor as well.

A moderately fun game called Do You Have Anger Problems? shows up next. Cast and crew host this for us, which makes it more entertaining than it otherwise would be. It’s obviously not a serious questionnaire, as the correct answers are pretty obvious. Unfortunately, Nicholson doesn’t ask any of the queries, but the game still has some cool moments.

The “Featurettes” area includes two programs. Skull Session runs 17 minutes and 53 seconds and presents the standard combination of movie clips, behind the scenes snippets, and interviews. We get remarks from Segal, Sandler, actor/executive producer Allen Covert, writer David Dorfman, actors Luis Guzman, John Turturro, and Marisa Tomei, costume designer Ellen Letter, production designer Alan Au, and propmaster Tim Wiles. Although it clearly seems designed to present a promotional opportunity, “Skull” actually covers the production reasonably well. It goes over a few details related to cast, set and costume design, locations, effects, and some general notes. The tone remains chipper and doesn’t get into much depth, but we learn a reasonable amount, and it tosses in lots of outtakes and moments from the set. Heck, it’s worth a look if just to see more of Heather Graham in her underwear.

Called My Buddy, Jack, the second featurette lasts four minutes, five seconds, and concentrates on others’ reactions to Nicholson. It uses the same format as “Skull”, and we hear from Segal, Sandler, Covert, Guzman, and Tomei. Mostly they just tell us Jack’s great. It’s a pretty pointless puff piece.

The bloopers reel fills five minutes and 35 seconds. It tosses out the usual assortment of nuttiness and goofs. Many of these already appeared in “Skull”, but really, is it possible to get too much of Heather Graham in her underwear?

Prepare for a slew of ads in the trailers department. This includes the promo for Anger Management as well as clips for Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, As Good As It Gets, Daddy Day Care, S.W.A.T., Hollywood Homicide, Mona Lisa Smile, Mr. Deeds, Radio and Peter Pan. Whew!

Finally, the package tosses in an Easter egg. Go to the “Deleted Scenes” screen and click up from “Candy Store”. This will highlight a green box; hit “enter” and you can watch a 14-second clip in which Sandler makes a really bad joke about his dog.

Anger Management packs two superstars but it doesn’t live up to the hype. The movie feels like most other Adam Sandler affairs, as it presents spotty humor and a lot of weak stretches. The DVD offers erratic but decent picture with reasonably good sound and a moderately interesting set of extras. If you like other recent Sandler flicks like Mr. Deeds or Big Daddy, you’ll probably enjoy Anger Management, but those of us who think Sandler peaked in the mid-Nineties will likely not care for it much.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.0526 Stars Number of Votes: 57
6 3:
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