Anger Management (**½)

Posted on April 1st, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

First of all, after seeing this movie I think that it would be great for its two stars (Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler) to make more movies together. This movie has an interesting story, an uneven script, workmanlike direction, and solid lead performances. In fact, Sandler and Nicholson fully inhabit their roles and play off one another with humorous edginess.

Without revealing too much, the storyline progresses a bit differently than I expected given what was shown in the trailers, but it’s not wildly different. Plus, this is a light comedy, so the story is just the framework for the humor, for the most part. The script ranges from hilarious and witty to juvenile and weak, but there’s a touch more hilarious wittiness than there is juvenile weakness, and overall I enjoyed the film.

But the weak, juvenile parts of the script make me want to know which of these is true:

1. Artless studio executives force crude, tasteless “humor” into otherwise witty, intelligent scripts because they think it adds an “edge” that will bring in some highly coveted demographic.

2. Pragmatic screenwriters know that their script won’t sell (or will be butchered by artless studio executives) if it doesn’t contain some crudeness, so they add it themselves in an attempt to control the awfulness of it.

3. Times and tastes have changed, and I’m now entering my “cantankerous old fart” phase.

My guess is that it’s a combination of all three. From my viewpoint, if you were to take out the anatomical and bodily-function “humor”, and were to make the ending just a bit more believable (I’m not asking for realistic, just as believable as the rest of the movie), this movie would have rated 3 to 3.5 stars. As it stands, though, it’s sort of a Frankenstein’s monster with parts from Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, and As Good As It Gets. And not just the good parts.

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