Anger Management

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By Mark Ramsey | 2003/04/20

“Temper is one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it,” says Jack Nicholson.

And the memory of Anger Management is another.

Despite a concept that can’t fail and top-drawer brand-name talent at the helm, Anger Management drags like fingernails on a chalkboard. Worse than a mere disappointment, this one had me feeling like I was thrashing about on a bed of spikes. I should have bought a bigger popcorn, that way I could hide my face in it.

Who cares that Anger Management is bringing in box office bucks by the tanker-load? Even in Hollywood folks must have a conscience, right? No matter who else they’re sleeping with eventually they have to sleep with themselves!

I’ll say it for the record: I am fed up with Jack Nicholson.

angermanagement_jack.jpg

What must it be like, Jack? To be infamous for your tedious Jack-ness? To be best known for your trademarked smirk rather than the star-making roles older than the average moviegoer? To be considered remarkable for playing an unremarkable man in last year’s About Schmidt? To have lived through the whoop-dee-doo 70′s and enjoyed more free love than most stars will buy in a lifetime? This, friends, is what acting is all about! Bring on the kudos!

Watching Anger Management is a Lara Flynn Boyle experience: Too long, too thin, and Jack screws you in the end. There’s more entertainment coming from the red exit sign than from the silver screen.

Here’s the story: Jack’s an unorthodox therapist who sends “anger-prone” Adam Sandler through a series of ridiculous tests to set up a series of lame-assed punch-lines. As is usually the case, ridiculous plus lame-assed equals ridiculously lame-assed.

In one bizarre scene, Jack stimulates his hair follicles with some kind of electro-ray gun. No doubt this is the same ray gun used to swap the brain of the screenwriter with the brain of a chicken.

Jack accessorizes his Jack-ness with a goatee and a beret. This doesn’t help with his characterization much, unless he’s aiming to sell baguettes on the Champs Elysee.

Isn’t it Jack, not Adam, who has the anger issues? Recall the time a simple fender bender led Jack to negotiate his anger with a fellow motorist with the help of Ambassador Flailing Five-Iron. Jack, you should know better! When you’re teed off, the rules say you use a wood, not an iron!

angermanagement_kitty.jpgThe plot is as predictable as the twists in a figure-eight and more disposable than yesterday’s news. The capper is Adam’s big speech to the assembled throng at Yankee stadium. So much for the Pride of the Yankees! The scene used 3,500 extras and 1,200 cardboard cutouts.

Cardboard cutouts? That explains why so many Wookies and C3PO’s are Yankee fans!

And what’s with Marisa Tomei? When she’s not squeezing out a tear like it’s the last glob of toothpaste, she’s nibbling on her lip to suggest:

1. I’m really attracted to you, God knows why

2. I’m deeply touched by whatever the Hell you’re saying

3. You’re stepping on my foot!

4. You would self-cannibalize too if you were playing third fiddle to the showbiz wunderkind who brought us The Hannukah Song!

Levity reaches the apex of diminished expectations when Adam and Jack stop traffic on the Queensboro Bridge in rush hour so they can sing a duet of I Feel Pretty. “I thought it would give the scene more visual interest and tension,” said director Peter Segal, who wouldn’t know visual interest and tension if he was best man at their wedding.

“The humor flows from an unorthodox vein,” explains one of Anger Management’s executive producers who doesn’t realize that tapping a vein makes for an outcome both anemic and ultimately lifeless.

Will therapist Jack be able to change Adam for the better? Will Adam graduate from Anger Management class before I tear the beverage holder off the armrest?

File Anger Management under “F” for forgettable.


Photos Copyright ©2003 Columbia Pictures

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