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Anger Management - Preview



Preview by: Jack Foley

Temper is the one thing you can't get rid of by losing it - Dr Buddy Rydell

HAVING exercised restraint in both of their previous outings, Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler now seem in need of a little Anger Management, if the title of Peter Segal's new film is anything to go by...

Co-starring the likes of Marisa Tomei, Woody Harrelson, Luis Guzman, Harry Dean Stanton, John Turturro, and Michelle Rodriguez, the film rates among the more eagerly-anticipated comedies of the year and looks set to cement the good work both Nicholson and Sandler put in on their last projects - About Schmidt and Punch-Drunk Love, respectively.

Anger Management finds Sandler's mild-mannered businessman, Dave Buznik, mistakenly sent to an anger-management programme after an outburst on an airplane.

Trouble is, the programme's therapist, Dr Buddy Rydell (Nicholson), is best described as a wild, volatile nutcase, whose own rage is clearly out of control. He's supposed to calm down the already-calm Dave, but instead he drives Dave crazy, while turning his own life upside down.

Segal's movie proved to be a hard-sell for Nicholson, however, who took over a month to deliberate over the script and then almost walked away.

The larger-than-life star, who recently missed out on an Oscar for best actor in About Schmidt, describes the project as 'an antic movie' and states that he was 'practically wearing a fright wig in it'.

Director, Segal, explains further (in an interview with Entertainment Weekly): "He was looking for a handle on the character - he wasn't sure if he was supposed to play 'Jack' or some other character."

He subsequently spent weeks, with Sandler, reworking the dialogue to win Nicholson back, adding: "We didn't have anybody but him in mind for the part. We had all our eggs in the Jack basket. So, we basically customized the part for him."

But Segal remains confident that he has struck gold, describing the blend of Sandler and Nicholson’s distinct approaches toward character as the best of both worlds.

"Adam likes to experiment on the set," he explained. "If things are going well, he tries something different to see if he can make it even better. If things aren’t working, he doesn’t leave until they do. It was fun to keep the camera rolling at times with Adam just so he could try different things."

And what of Nicholson's approach to Doctor Buddy? "One thing we talked about was bringing an off-balance sense to the audience’s perception of Buddy," continues Segal, "so they’d constantly be asking themselves if he is really a good therapist or maybe a bit insane and dangerous. The more he kept the audience guessing, the better he thought the story would be."

He adds: "Jack brings legitimacy to the role of Doctor Buddy Rydell because, in his attention to detail, he sounds like a therapist and embodies Buddy’s philosophy. But he also brings that menacing edge that is innately Jack, which plays against all the caring qualities you expect from a reputable therapist.

"The combo of the concept and the casting is a dream come true," says Segal. "Anytime I describe Anger Management – ‘It’s a comedy about a guy played by Adam Sandler who has to take anger management classes. And Jack Nicholson is the therapist,’ – the reaction is immediate. Everyone says the same thing: ‘I’m there.’"

That theory will be put to the test in America, however, on April 11 (when Indielondon will report back on the critical reaction), while UK audiences will have to wait until June 6 to get some management therapy...

What the US critics had to say...

The US critics were split, almost 50/50, over the merits of the movie, with every good notice being quickly followed by a bad one.

Leading the way, as ever, is Entertainment Weekly, which awarded it a B+ and wrote that it is 'a comedy as bracing and furiously right for the moment as it is broad and huggable'.

The New York Post, meanwhile, wrote that 'Anger Management is a ragged piece of filmmaking, but the odds are you'll have as good a time watching it as Nicholson and Sandler seemed to have making it'.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, felt that while '[Nicholson and Sandler are] not the most felicitous comedy team ever devised, but they make the mismatchup work, and that's all the film needed to accomplish'.

And Planet Sick-Boy wrote that 'where Punch-Drunk Love emphasized incongruous romance, Management highlights bizarre comedy much the same way it was achieved in Planes, Trains & Automobiles'.

Of a more negative nature were the likes of the San Francisco Chronicle, which wrote that it is 'a comedy that doesn't call for a review so much as a prospectus', while the Movieboy.com felt that it was 'one of [Adam] Sandler's weaker, more slapdash efforts'.

The New York Times, meanwhile, wrote that 'some of the movie is so primitively staged that you can almost hear someone leafing through the book of instructions that came with the camera'.

Of a more mixed nature was the Chicago Sun-Times, which wrote that 'the concept is inspired; the execution is lame', while Slant Magazine felt that it boasted 'a funny setup to a lame punch line'.

Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, felt that 'Peter Segal directs individual sequences with a steady hand, but slack editing and a meandering and muddled plot make the film seem slow'.

While the Toronto Star wrote that 'the promise of Anger Management lasts for all of about 15 minutes'.

But we conclude with the positives, and the Chicago Tribune, which declared that Anger Management is 'Punch-Drunk Love for the masses'.

And finally, our favourite, The Washington Post, which summed up the movie as 'Miller time for the funny bone'.

Indielondon will deliver its verdict shortly...

Click here for the Adam Sandler website...

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