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
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
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
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 Nicholsons 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 arent working,
he doesnt 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 audiences
perception of Buddy," continues Segal, "so theyd
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 Buddys 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
Its 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: Im 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
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
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
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
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
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
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...
for the Adam Sandler website...