Susan Granger's review of "Anger Management" (Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios)
Admittedly, the concept of teaming Jack Nicholson with Adam Sandler is irresistible, but it's a premise that's absolutely stretched to the limit here.
Sandler plays Dave Buznik, a meek, mild-mannered New Yorker who's been traumatized for 25 years, ever since he was publicly humiliated in Brooklyn in 1978. Now this milquetoast finds himself on a plane seated next to an obnoxious therapist/author, Dr. Buddy Rydell - that's Nicholson. When Dave inadvertently gets into trouble with the cabin crew, he winds up in court where he's sentenced to anger management therapy with - guess who? - malevolent Dr. Rydell. At the group meetings, he and his fellow 'fury fighters' (John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Krista Allen, January Jones) are forced to listen to Rydell's psychotic ranting: "Temper's the one thing you can't get rid of by losing it" and "Sarcasm is anger's ugly cousin." Bolstered by his girl-friend (Marisa Tomei) who keeps urging him to be more assertive, Buznik tries his best to get with the unorthodox program, even when the demented doctor insists on radical round-the-clock therapy.
Screenwriter David Dorfman and director Peter Segal milk the ludicrous, often muddled, rampant-rage-rhino gags 'till they're dry and one - staged in a Buddhist monastery - tastelessly misfires into toxic vulgarity. On the other hand, Nicholson and Sandler purposefully play the lame head games, and their silly "I Feel Pretty" duet from "West Side Story" is a guaranteed laugh. For episodic distraction, Woody Harrelson, John McEnroe, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Clemens, and Derek Jeter pop up in cameos. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Anger Management" is a crude, feeble 5. Too bad these cool stars didn't demand a better chilled story.
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