Peter Segal’s Anger Management

Adam Sandler’s career is composed of a few key elements: unfunny trash, comedy gold and a small handful of serious dramas. Anger Management falls into the second category and is an absolute blast but it’s mostly thanks to a batshit crazy, scene stealing virtuoso Jack Nicholson rather than anything Sandler does. It doesn’t hurt that the film is packed to the brim with hilarious cameos and supporting talent as well. Sandler is Dave Buznik, a meek businessman who gets walked all over by his toad of a boss (Kurt Fuller) and constantly reminded by his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei, about a hundred acres out of his league) to stand up for himself. After finally losing his cool (sort of) on a plane he gets slapped with a court order to do twenty hours of anger management treatment under the deranged supervision of unconventional therapist Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson). Rydell is a thoroughly weird dude who insinuates himself into Dave’s life, hits on his girl, frequently loses his cool and displays a near constant stream of bizarre, inexplicable behaviour. There’s a reason for all that, revealed in the film’s monumentally implausible twist that falls apart under any scrutinizing back down the chain of events in this narrative, but this isn’t the type of film to nitpick like that. Nicholson is a goddamn treat here and gets so many wacky moments I wish the film was more centred on him, he’s hilarious to watch whether having a volcanic tantrum and launching his plate of breakfast against a wall, forcing Sandler to sing ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story or obliterating some poor dude’s car with a baseball bat just because he boxed him into a parking spot. The ironic thing about Sandler is that he’s touted as a comedian but he’s just not funny, and the appeal from any film he stars in always comes from the other actors in it who steal it from him without fail. There’s quite a few here including Heather Graham, Allen Covert, a hotheaded John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Krista Allen and January Jones as a pair of rambunctious lesbian porn stars, Kevin Nealon, Rudy Giuliani, Derek Jeter, John C. Reilly, Harry Dean Stanton and Woody Harrelson in a hysterical encore cameo as a transvestite named Galaxia. The film works with its manic energy, hectic ensemble cast and Nicholson’s dysfunctional tirade of a performance, and is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen recently.

-Nate Hill

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