Everyone can get pissed off from time to time, although rarely do we come to need such radical therapy as in this 2003 movie, Anger Management.
Paradoxically, the main character in this story, Dave, seems like the quietest, most secretive man in the world, so peaceful actually that friends and co-workers often take advantage of him.
The only one who stands firmly by him is his sweet fiancée, Linda, who, however, wishes he would be less shy and more self-confident once in a while.
However, due to a series of accidental circumstances, he was charged and tried for assaulting a flight attendant on an airplane.
Since he has no criminal record, the judge decides not to put him in jail, instead sentencing him to an anger management program.
The course is led by an eccentric and unorthodox therapist, Dr. Buddy Rydell, who employs extravagant approaches to helping his heterogeneous group of patients.
Dave seems to get along well with these bizarre characters, among whom are some extremely passionate porn stars and other men with past sudden and violent fits of temper.
However, the therapist doesn’t see the improvement he expected, so he takes a more intensive approach, moving in with him to provide more continuous and personal therapy.
As Dave tries to maintain control of his life and cope with Dr. Rydell’s intrusive presence, his relationship with his girlfriend begins to suffer from the increasing pressure of events.
Even worse, Dave discovers that the therapist actually orchestrated many of the situations that led to his anger because he wanted to get rid of him and freely court the beautiful Linda.
But, of course, a surprise ending awaits the unlucky and increasingly pissed-off protagonist.
An honest comedy therapy session
2003’s Anger Management is a comedy by Peter Segal, and I am well aware that in the past, some of his movies have not met everyone’s taste.
Again, the director has shown a certain skill in handling the talent of the lead actors within a continuous series of situations whose insanity grows exponentially.
Adam Sandler, known for his comic performances, shows some moderation in acting, similar to what he did (even better) in The WaterBoy, despite his usual clowning around that some viewers do not always like, his style works in this context, so there is no reason to change a winning formula.
On the other hand, Jack Nicholson gives an overwhelming and compelling performance in the role of this eccentric therapist, which is not difficult for him with a long career and an undisputed talent for portraying psychopathic figures.
Moreover, the actor has the proper charisma to give logic and meaning to his character’s seemingly insane actions, underlining the good intentions behind each gesture.
The combination of these two actors, so different from each other, might seem unusual, but the result is surprisingly effective in this quirky buddy movie.
Despite a few drops in the rhythm and some gags not working perfectly, the interaction between the two leads keeps the viewer’s attention.
Some comic situations could indeed be a bit raunchy, but if you are not overly sensitive about it, Anger Management succeeds in its intent to entertain without being an unforgettable masterpiece but solidly doing its honest and funny job.
Call them minor characters if you like
Anger Management was a huge success movie in 2003, grossing nearly $200 million worldwide.
Of course, this achievement is due not only to the presence of stars Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson but also to the talents of the rest of the cast, soaking thoroughly in the madness of the movie, even in small, brief, or supporting roles.
Among them, the one that convinced me the least is the actress I like best, Marisa Tomei, who plays the sweet girlfriend, Linda.
While once again demonstrating her beauty and emotionality, sadly, her character is not put to good use for almost the entire story, coming out only in the funny (and predictable) ending.
It’s a different affair for John Turturro as the violent and hot-tempered Chuck, almost intrusive as Dr. Rydell, for an actor we can safely put on par with Nicholson.
In contrast, the smaller Luis Guzmán plays Lou, a quiet and seemingly harmless character, although you beware of making him angry, or he may beat the crap out of you without even remembering he did it afterward.
Among Dr. Rydell’s patients, the favorites among the men are undoubtedly Krista Allen and January Jones as the provocative porn stars Stacy and Gina, who will take lucky Dave out for a spicy threesome.
Surrounding these central characters, we also have some notable cameos, such as Woody Harrelson as a prostitute/transvestite or the always charming Heather Graham making an appearance as a courtship exam.
Of course, let’s not forget the fantastic John C. Reilly as the hated bully Arnie Shankman, a redeemed Buddhist pacifist, at whose hands a cathartic, no-holds-barred clash arises to overcome Dave’s childhood fears.
These are the faces of a cinematic work that, though flawed, has won over viewers and grossed big numbers at the box office.