One would expect a movie with anger in the title to be a little on edge, but "Anger Management," Adam Sandler's latest concoction, plays it safe.
The film blends Sandler's various film personas in the last few years and pairs him with a typically smug Jack Nicholson as an anger management therapist in a typical comedy where guy gets girl, guy loses girl and then they kiss and make up at the end.
"Anger Management" stars Sandler as Dave, a cross between Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison and Bobby Boucher, all previous characters he has played. Dave's got Happy's implosive anger, Billy's irreverent wisecracks and Bobby's pushover attitude.
The girl, Linda, played by Marisa Tomei, is patient, beautiful and understanding, and it's hard to see exactly what she sees in Dave or how he managed to snag her to begin with.
The plot starts to churn when Dave is forced into an anger management program after a misunderstanding on an airplane lands him in court for assaulting a flight attendant. He is put under the care of Dr. Buddy Rydell, played with the self-satisfied smirk that Jack Nicholson does best.
Sandler and Nicholson do have some comic chemistry, but it comes and goes. When it's funny, it's a laugh-out-loud riot, such as when Buddy forces Dave to stop in the middle of rush hour traffic to sing, "I Feel Pretty," from "West Side Story." But when the script fails them, the film flops with a resounding thud.
Perhaps the unevenness of the script can be blamed on screenwriter David Dorfman's inexperience. According to the Internet Movie Database, "Anger Management" is one of two movies listed in his filmography.
Also, many of the funny bits are in the film trailers that have preceded other movies for months and months. If you've seen the trailers, save your money and rent "What About Bob?" another, funnier movie about therapy run amok starring Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray.
Some wacky supporting characters, who also happen to be in Dave's anger support group, include John Tuturro as Dave's "anger buddy" and Luis Guzman as a high-strung, effeminate anger junkie. "Saturday Night Live" alum Kevin Nealon plays Dave's lawyer, and John C. Reilly (Oscar nominee for supporting role in "Chicago") plays Arnie Shankman, Dave's childhood nemesis turned monk.
The film is a walking, talking who's who in Hollywood with cameos from a number of well known actors, athletes and public figures such as Rudy Giuliani, Bobby Knight, Heather Graham, Woody Harrelson and John McEnroe.
Sandler fans will appreciate this film for what it is - a Sandler vehicle that sports his blend of impious, off-hand humor paired with seasoned veteran Nicholson. Others beware.
As I walked out of the theater after seeing what I thought was a mediocre film, the couple in front of me exclaimed, "What a cute movie!" Different strokes for different folks.
Rated - PG-13
for crude sexual content and language
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson and Marisa Tomei
Director: Peter Segal
Length: 101 minutes
Now playing at: Astoria Gateway Cinemas, Cannes Cinema in Seaside and Neptune Twin Theatres in Long Beach, Wash.
Short take: Adam Sandler stays in his comfort zone as Dave, a cubicle dweller with anger management issues. Jack Nicholson plays his unconventional therapist who has some questionable techniques such as moving in with Dave and hitting on his girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei. The film has its moments, but generally plays it safe taking cues from other Sandler films such as "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore" and "The Waterboy."
Rating: Two stars
Four stars: Absolutely the best
Three stars: Good, solid entertainment
Two stars: Wait for the video
One star: Don't waste your time
Movie Trivia: Adam Sandler was one of the executive producers on this film. What is the name of Sandler's production company?
Movie Triva answer: Happy Madison